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Festival conversations

In partnership with the doctoral programme SACRe-PSL

The Event

What happens to us – what moves us.

“There is nothing to tell events apart from other moments: they reveal themselves down the road, through their scars.” This paraphrase from Chris Marker’s La Jetée provides a good starting point for those considering one of the first paradoxes of the event: its muddled timeline. Whether we consider the hyper present conveyed by the media or historical duration, the event stands out as a time anomaly, a snag in the continuum of history, and redefines the past and the future in the light of the present. Can we make sense of the event in hindsight, based on the traces and the wounds it leaves behind? Or can its story be told in the present? Such a telling raises the question of how we break down reality: Where do we start? Where do we stop?

A second paradox is the advent of the event. Marker’s statement suggests that events are apparently no different from ordinary moments, in line with the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. To quote Deleuze: “The event is not what occurs (an accident); it is rather, inside what occurs, the purely expressed. It signals and awaits us.” As such, the event does not belong to the realm of facts, but to the realm of becoming: it is less of an epiphany or a breaking point and more of a folding over and a remapping of the senses. Instead of drawing a line between types of events, big or small, extraordinary or mundane, we should perhaps separate what happens to us from what moves us, drawing a line between reality’s violent intrusion into the course of our existence on the one hand, and the remapping of memory and possibility by new principles of intelligibility on the other.

Third paradox: the event appears obvious and is a fracturing of meaning, it seizes us and escapes us at the same time. How can we represent it without falsifying it? How can we account for it without commemorating it? Documentary practices roll out a variety of tools and questions to make sense of the event, drawing on investigative and narrative processes, immersion and re-enactment. How do artists and researchers interpret the event? How do they recognize it? How do they give it new meaning and legibility? Moreover, how does the documentary form bring forth a mode of eventness unto itself, redefining our experience of common sense and challenging the order of things through a logic of disorder?

These are some of the considerations that will be discussed during the fourth edition of Festival Conversations.

Alice Leroy