Worksheet 11

Worksheet 11 - Worksheet eleven Dziga Vertov: Part One...

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Worksheet eleven Dziga Vertov: Part One introduction An important characteristic of the artistic avant-garde and the various modernist artistic movements in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the manifesto . Throughout the period up until perhaps just after the Second World War, that is, for more than a half century, there were intense debates between artists and between critics concerning what constituted the correct and most productive path for the arts, in effect, what art was. These debates reflected a crisis in the consideration of the arts and raised questions concerning talent, inventiveness, social responsibility, the new, the beautiful and the significant. The various isms that emerged during this period are a reflection in part of this crisis, a sign of a multiplicity of directions and impulses almost unknown before the nineteenth century: Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, Dada, Suprematism, Constructivism, Formalism, Modernism and today, Post-Modernism. The positions were not merely descriptive but also, in most instances, prescriptive (Post-Modernism is the exception). The manifestos were programmatic (what art should be), and therefore critical (what art should not be) and therefore historical (what art was in the present and had been in the past). Each movement tended to supplant and reject the others. The manifesto was a polemic (for a certain art, against another art, each claiming to be more revolutionary, more innovative or more ‘realistic’, a term that became increasingly problematic and remains so) and philosophical (what is art?). Every work then, say of the Cubists, or of Russian and later Soviet artists, were explicitly or by implication (debates raged) statements about art and whatever else the art work was it was necessarily also a discourse, and every art work made entered into an area of philosophical-aesthetic commentary. The critical-philosophical dimension and the polemical one were each aspects of the other and similar undertakings. For example, bringing the matter closer to the present, Jean-Luc Godard’s statement that writing about film was no different than making film (criticism as film-making) and that the reverse was also true (film-making as criticism). Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929), is a manifesto film about what the cinema should be while at the same time it posed the questions “What is the cinema?” and “What is this film?”, and answered them: “The true, pure cinema is this film.” “This is the direction film must take.” “This is the direct path.” Vertov’s film was a manifesto on behalf of what it did as well as being directed against other kinds of film and practices, what other’s did, that is, the Man with a Movie Camera , presented itself as the essence of cinema and of the specifically cinematic untainted by literature or theatre. Godard’s
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Worksheet 11 - Worksheet eleven Dziga Vertov: Part One...

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