Problematizing reality – encounters between art, cinema and philosophy

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (1982).
ACT at MIT

On Wednesday, March 27, ACT Director and Professor Judith Barry will be in conversation with Giovanbattista Tusa at the Geothe-Institute in Lisbon, following a screening of  Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (Veronika Voss, 1982, 104 Min.) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Artworks, especially those that comprise documentary material, can offer a particularly challenging appeal to our thoughts about reality. While their indexical link to the reality they address grants images and sounds a specific credibility, the position of the artist, her aesthetic, thematic and political choices and self-reflexive stance, may generate a critical assessment of the very constitution of reality. At such a point, art meets philosophy. In order to reflect on the relationship between the factual world and its subjective appropriation, questioning hegemonic claims to objectivity and problematising the inherent contradictions of society are inherently philosophical issues. ‘Problematising reality – Encounters between art, cinema and philosophy’ is a series of projections and discussions that takes place in various cultural spaces in the city of Lisbon, starting in June 2018, in a partnership between IFILNOVA (CineLab) / FCSH / UNL, Goethe-Institut and Maumaus / Lumiar Cité and in collaboration with Apordoc / Doc’s Kingdom. These encounters between artists and researchers of international renown focus on the very moments where art, cinema and philosophy enter into a productive dialogue.

The seventh and last edition of this series of conversations and screenings brings together the New York-based artist Judith Barry and the philosopher Giovanbattista Tusa, who will discuss Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s feature filmVeronika Voss (Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss, 1982), the third episode of Fassbinder’s trilogy on Post-War West Germany, following after The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978) and Lola (1981). Veronika Voss tells the story of a once celebrated film diva unable to face the fact that her fame has faded away since the end of Hitler reign. Fallen into oblivion and denying the reality of which she was ‘the face’ – the Nazi-regime – she continues acting in a highly mannered way, drifts into drug addiction, and falls prey to a totally manipulative business-minded psychiatrist. Through an aesthetics reminiscent of American film noir, Veronika Voss captures the complex entanglements of collective and individual history, reality and its cinematic stylization, the rough film business and the dream machine it represents.

Judith Barry (USA) is an artist and writer whose work combines a number of disciplines including installation and project-based research, architecture/exhibition design, film/video, performance art/dance, sculpture, photography, and digital media. She has exhibited internationally at such platforms as the Berlin Biennale, Venice Biennale(s) of Art/Architecture, Sharjah Biennial, Sao Paolo Biennale, Nagoya Biennale, Carnegie International, Whitney Biennale, Sydney Biennale, and Documenta, among others. Her publications include Body without Limits (2009), The Study for the Mirror and Garden (2003), Projections: mise en abyme (1997), and Public Fantasy (1991). Currently she is Director of ACT – the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (Cambridge, MA).

Giovanbattista Tusa (Italy) is a philosopher and media researcher based in Lisbon, where he is currently a Researcher in Philosophy and Ecology at the Nova Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA), Universidade Nova de Lisboa. His latest work, De la Fin, co-authored with Alain Badiou, was published in France in 2017 and is currently under translation in English, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish. His current multidisciplinary research examines radical politics, art, cinema, eco-criticism, ontological realism and animal studies, and contemporary practices.