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2021 EDITION / RETROSPECTIVES / AMOS VOGEL

When people ask me how I can be optimistic now about the possibilities for progressive politics or for subversive art, I have a saying: ‘I have more confidence in my enemies than I have in my friends.’ I’m convinced that my enemies will continue to do the most outrageously repressive things and therefore will again, inevitably, evoke a revolt on the part of those who are being kept out or kept down artificially and by force. The power of the artistic impulse that creates what we call the avant-garde cannot be overcome; it will always rise again.

Amos Vogel

Photo: Amos Vogel & Alexander Horwath, 1993. Viennale/Austrian Film Museum
 

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PROGRAM 1. A NEW HOME

A somewhat situationist take on New York City where Amos Vogel, exiled from his fatherland and his mother tongue, found a new home and more than one new language. In the Street introduces the idea: “The streets of the poor quarters of great cities are, above all, a theater and a battleground. There, unaware and unnoticed, every human being is a poet, a masker, a warrior, a dancer”. At the end of the show, a post-apocalyptic shooter game looks at Manhattan in the rearview mirror, from Jane Jacobs’ urban activism to Donald Trump’s island of the rich.

Program 1.  A New Home

PROGRAM 2. IN LOVE AND WAR

Vogel’s interest in modernity extended far beyond the realm of art and culture. He was an avid reader of political and social theory and followed debates in the natural sciences. His own “theory of relativity” and “uncertainty principle”, however, were based as much on personal/historical experience as on the books he devoured. He felt that the “smallest”, most private, and the “largest”, most public phenomena were intertwined in complex ways and cautioned against the hierarchies that we usually erect between them. The cinema is no different: epics and ephemera, acts of poetry and of bearing witness, the trivial and the sublime – they all inhabit the same space and can quickly trade places.

Program 2. In Love and War

PROGRAM 3. PLAYGROUND

It’s safe to assume that the global success of Film as a Subversive Art was partly due to the (counter-) cultural shifts of the 1960s. Vogel’s book resonated with recent notions of social and sexual liberation, but it also gave them a historical and aesthetic perspective: the cinema should not just “propagate” rebellious forces and figures like – in our case – Otto Mühl (the Viennese Actionist), Abbie Hoffman (co-founder of the Yippies) or Wilhelm Reich (the original Freudo-Marxist and theorist of the sexual revolution). It must become a force in its own right and liberate itself from the shackles of audiovisual, narrative and spatio-temporal propriety.

Program 3. Playground

PROGRAM 4. "CHILDREN HAVE THEIR OWN LAWS"

The title of the program is a quote from Franz Cižek, a pioneer in art education for children. The boy Amos, whose mother was a progressive educator herself and worked with Alfred Adler at the height of “Red Vienna’s” school reform, thoroughly enjoyed Cižek’s courses. And he would dedicate major parts of his own adult life to the art-pedagogical impulse. It was pedagogy with a twist, of course, as this selection of films hopes to indicate: “The only good education, the only true education is subversive. It’s the only way you’re gonna learn anything.” (Abbie Hoffman)

Program 4. "Children have their own laws"

PROGRAM 5. SECRETS AND REVELATIONS: A MUSICAL

“Secrets and Revelations” is a chapter heading in Vogel’s book; it shows an atheist fascinated by the irrational, animistic powers of the movie theater where “the only absolutely modern mystery is being celebrated” (André Breton). The “Musical” aspect, however, is ours: an attempt to display seven magnificent works of cinema like a songbook. Operatic and gay, this roundelay is also possessed by spirits and blessed by improbable harmony; it marries scientific and surrealist imagery and finds a home where all homelands are lost.

Program 5. Secrets and Revelations: A Musical

PROGRAM 6. TOPSY-TURVY

At Cinema 16, Vogel loved to bring agitation, animation and avant-garde aspiration into close contact, with some academic respectability always thrown into the mix. The films would question each other and the expectations of their audience. A seemingly stable universe of values, power relations and systems of knowledge could quickly tumble and turn. Secret formulas for re-viewing the world from the inside and outside would be proposed. Yes, this civilization may capsize and sink. If we nevertheless do not despair of it, it is because its own desperate situation fills us with hope.

Program 6. Topsy-Turvy
PROMOTED BY
Gobierno de Navarra
ORGANIZED BY
NICDO
WITH THE AID OF
Con la financiación del Gobierno de España. Instituto de la Cinematografía y las Artes AudiovisualesAcción Cultural Española
WITH THE SUPPORT OF
Ayuntamiento de PamplonaGoethe InstitutCentro de Arte Contemporáneo de HuarteTeatro GayarreLa Fábrica
MEMBER OF
PantallaIberofestLa Mesta
PARTNERS
Filmoteca de NavarraPlanetario de PamplonaMuseo OteizaMuseo Universidad de NavarraFilmoteca Española
CinetecaFilmoteca CatalunyaInstitut FrançaisHotel Tres ReyesHotel Maisonave
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