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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathBroodthaers
Eric de Bruyn


The thought is almost as old as the medium itself: ‹cinema resembles a kind of writing.› With sardonic relish, Marcel Broodthaers would often visit this analogy during his short-lived career. In an undated manuscript called «Projet pour un texte,» for instance, we find the following comment: «I am cruelly torn between something immobile that has already been written and the comic movement that animates 24 images per second.» [1] . And the tragicomic effect of such a camera-stylo is registered in an eponymous film of 1969. Broodthaers is filmed in his garden while absorbed in the process of writing a text. However, the text is never completed because the rain that constantly pours down on him washes the ink off the page: «La Pluie (Projet pour un texte),» (1969). For Broodthaers, cinema functioned as a curious device of simultaneous inscription and erasure. It formed an invention of a technological age that was both stillborn and still remained to be born. We are asked to consider cinema as project, therefore, and not as a projection. «At the origin of my intentions there was this idea of cinema that dispenses with the notion of movement,» the artist wrote in 1967 [2] . This resistance


to the directional force of film was geared to his refusal of a cinema of narrative absorption. The diegetic universe of classical cinema, with its projective unity of word and image, offers the spectator a vision of spatial totality. And Broodthaers always eyed such a perceptual «conquest of space«with great suspicion. The spatialized logic of classical cinema, after all, mimics the universal structure of the commodity—a structure that Broodthaers advises undergirds the cultural field as a whole. «If we are concerned with reification, then Art is a particular representation of the phenomenon –a form of tautology.» [3]

Broodthaers frequently observed how a process of instrumentalization has come to pervade the cultural sphere. In 1967, he could still propose, partially in jest, that we consider «film stock as a place for storing ideas –a rather special kind of can.» [4] But by 1969 he must lament the progressive reduction of film to the transmission of an idea: «Thus in certain kinds of conceptual art, the film is often a banal intermediary in which the idea plays the main role of subject.» [5] Art thus assumes the status of publicity. Unless, that is,

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