PETER TSCHERKASSKY [Miniaturen, 1983; Get Ready, 1999] 

“Perhaps one could say that from the outset I wanted to unravel and dissolve the medium, ‘destroy’ is not the right expression, but, yes, some type of ‘breaking,’ and in breaking, allowing something else to become visible.” —Peter Tscherkassky—

(Or, un vrai film ne doit pas pouvoir se raconter… L’avenir est au film qui ne pourra se raconter. (Now a real film must not be able to be told… The future belongs to the film that cannot be told.) —Germaine Dulac—

Peter Tscherkassky’s films offer compelling responses to Dulac’s calls for a medium-specific cinéma purand her search for the film that must not be able to be told, giving viewers glimpses of something “unspeakable” emerging at the moment of celluloid’s twilight. His cinematography, engaged in self-conscious explorations of film’s essence at the historical conjuncture of its apparent obsolescence, operates through techniques that break down, break apart, and break from film. This disorganization resonates strongly with the French-Hungarian psychoanalyst Nicolas Abraham’s notion of “anasemia” [anasémie], elaborated in his essay “The Shell and the Kernel.” Abraham coined the term anasemia—from anti-semantics—to describe the singularity and originality of Freudian psychoanalytic concepts such as Pleasure, Economics, Dynamic, and Wish, which “literally rip themselves away from the dictionary and ordinary language.” Abraham describes anasemic words as attending to the unthought nonpresence central to psychoanalysis: “They are ‘ways of speaking,’ means of disclosing the unspeakablein nonsense and contradiction.”

In the essay “Acinema,” Jean-François Lyotard argues that the coherence of classical cinema is constituted through the exclusion, effacement, and repression of nonproductive movements and expenditures: banishing the instants of the “acinematic” to the exterior of the film frame. Tscherkassky’s singular manner of attending to that which is exteriorized from cinema (acinema) by virtue of the delimitations of its essence, might be considered a form of anacinema: a cinema that, in asserting its essence, becomes something other than itself. His anacinematicbreakdowns present flashes of a filmic entity that attends to both irreparable loss (“death of film”) and the production of the new, an opening to radical transformation. It addresses simultaneously what the relentless “present” of the instant would seem to refuse or repress: the what-has-been of the historical and the uncertain yet-to-come of a future unnamed, which demands the expansion, or even invention, of expressive and critical languages.

Anacinema: Peter Tscherkassky’s Cinematic Breakdowns | Towards the Unspeakable Film

Ess. [JLC-USC] ©JLC, 2008 - [PT]

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