Politics and critical uses of archive images The work of Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi

October 25 - 26, 2016. In partnership with the Centre Pompidou, with the participation of the filmmakers presenting their work in progress.

This conference aims to form a transdisciplinary discussion about the political and critical uses of film archive images, by approaching the subject via Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi’s films and other artistic productions. The call for papers is addressed to researchers and students, from disciplines such as film history and theory, art history, history, anthropology, visual anthropology, as well as participants in these fields (film critics, artists and curators) who have encountered the filmmakers’ work at different moments in their artistic career. Marking the occasion of the complete retrospective of the filmmakers’ œuvre at the Pompidou Center (Fall 2015) and the publication of their many writings and notebooks by Post-Éditions (Notre caméra analytique. Mise en catalogue des images et objets), we hope to create a place for discussion to consider their work as a whole, along with its continuities and changes.

Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi have produced many videos and travel diaries – both written and filmed – during different voyages, while asserting themselves as “archeologists or anthropologists” (Gianikian, Ricci Lucchi, 2015). By their “comings and goings between powers of the masses and the seizing of the individual being, with all of its conceivable intermediary states” (Bellour, 2012/2001), the filmmakers challenge the categories and the schemes of analysis established within the field of social sciences, as well as the manner in which anthropology and history can rethink their frame of reference at its point of convergence with “archive art films” (Blümlinger, 2013). If the filmmakers’ found images trace a history of visuality, the disciplines implicated in their corpus seem to have trouble comprehending all of the dimensions of their work. 

The catalogue of found images constituted by the filmmakers also opens a pathway to new studies in the historiography and ethnography of social and political uses of fascist and colonial images. Through their meticulous craft in working with diverse film archives, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi have exhumed and reemployed images produced between the end of the 19th century and the 1970s. This call for papers encourages researchers to simultaneously interrogate the regimes of historicity of collected images, the “concept of archive” (Blümlinger, 2013) that prevails in the filmmakers’ work methods, in addition to the critical forms elaborated by their formal enterprise. Papers could focus on any one of the numerous and diverse reactions provoked by their work. In the same vein as punk in the 1970s, Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi’s films seem to “draw a laugh from the [spectator] and then drive it back down [their] throat” (Marcus, 1989). 

The misunderstandings, the perplexities, and the disagreements between “the study of images by the images themselves” (Brenez, 1998) proposed by the filmmakers and the academic approaches of these bodies of knowledge (Russell, 1999, Griffiths, 2002) forms a third potential approach that will be explored and questioned during this conference. 

Proposals could either evaluate Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi’s entire œuvre (collections of varied objects, recycled archives, “notebooks”, filmed diaries, installations), or trace the connections between individual pieces that are pertinent to a larger visual and cultural history. Proposals (in English or in French, between 400 and 500 words) and a short CV should be submitted to the organizers of the conference before April 30th 2016 (larcherj@hotmail.fr and alopai@hotmail.com). Accepted participants will be notified by the end of May 2016. We ask the presenters to submit their papers to the organizers by October 10th 2016.

Proposed axes of reflection

  • The place of filmmakers’ work in a visual history of the “western” gaze and the processes of domination.
  • Resistances and the “right to look” (Mirzoeff, 2011) of the dominated in the work of Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi.
  • The potential impact of their images in the current power struggles of the dominated for access to a distinct image and a singular voice.
  • A reexamination of the critical stance of the “artist as ethnographer” (Foster, 1996) – at the intersection of anthropological issues and contested subjects evoked by artistic acts.
  • Historiography of catastrophes and the political uses of the past in the 20th century.
  • An analysis and a critique of the encounters between futurism and fascism.
  • The act of cataloguing, or “la mise en catalogue”, in art history and the history of the humanities (from anthropology to criminology).
  • The place of Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi’s work within the history of political and critical cinematography.
  • Exchanges and encounters of filmmakers with historical avant-gardes.
  • The continuance and perpetuation of colonial, totalitarian, and fascist visual regimes.
  • Filmic forms of “time’s inconceivability” (Hartog, 2003) – forgetting, amnesia, repression, and denial.
  • Poetic and critical visual strategies; the continuity and revival of reassembling practices.
  • Amplification and subversion of visual representational codes with regard to appropriated images.
  • The ethical dimensions of reemploying and reworking archival images.
  • The potential for visual and artistic approaches in archaeological and anthropological work.
  • Articulation between different levels of intention in reappropriated images.
  • Critical use and formal work of sound and music.
  • Critical aesthetic issues of the projection and installation dispositives produced during expositions


  • Jonathan Larcher (EHESS / CRAL)
  • Alo Paistik (EHESS / CRAL)

Scientific committee

  • Nicole Brenez (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 / LIRA)
  • Jean-Paul Colleyn (EHESS / IMAF)
  • Antoine De Baecque (École Normale Supérieure / DHTA)
  • Miriam De Rosa (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • Robert Lumley (UCL / SELCS)
  • Judith Revault d’Allonnes (Centre Pompidou)
  • Jean-Marie Schaeffer (EHESS / DIA)
  • Matthias Steinle (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 / IRCAV)

Informations pratiques

Date(s) limite(s)
  • Saturday 30 April 2016 - 00:00
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Jonathan Larcher