Poetics and Politics of Documentary 4: Against Story

Poetics and Politics of Documentary is a practice-led research symposium exploring the interconnections between art and knowledge as they are expressed in documentary practices, broadly conceived. It will be held at the University of California Santa Cruz May 16-19th, 2019.

The Poetics and Politics of Documentary symposium represents an unusual opportunity for media makers and artists working within the broad ambit of documentary who critically reflect on their own work to come together in an intimate setting in order to think out loud about what it is we do and why it matters. We seek proposals that explore documentary media in its current state of production, exhibition, context, culture, significance, and possibility. We especially seek proposals from documentary practitioners who conceive of their ‘practice’ most broadly to include — without being limited to — moving image media, digital media, sound, writing, programming, photography, archiving and installation among other forms, either as individual or hybrid practices in which more than a single medium are in dialogue.

We have set as the theme of this year’s symposium: Against Story. Even a cursory look at the current field of non-fiction media funding and exhibition reveals a widespread requirement for the identification of ‘characters’ and the delineation of ‘story.’ What does this demand facilitate and what does it foreclose? What are the political implications of this trend? What are the poetic or aesthetic consequences?  The sub-title of this symposium is meant to suggest two stances: a counterposition but also an intimate proximity. Our title is clearly offered as a provocation: an invitation to thought and discussion. As such, the symposium is in solidarity with other recent (and ongoing) publications and events that critically engage with contemporary documentary cultures in an effort to both broaden and deepen our field and modes of inquiry. Most recently, Alexandra Juhasz and Alisa Lebow’s Beyond Story is an important call to arms and we are thrilled that they will be bringing their manifesto to the symposium.

Featuring keynote speakers Kirsten Johnson and Lana Lin.

Posted in Research, Upcoming Events.