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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathBroodthaers

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naming to which Foucault alludes. Contemporary art, as Broodthaers would counter, has reversed the tactic of modernism. It is no longer silent but is overrun by a rhetoric that transforms it into a mere advertisement for a fashionable theory («Rhétorique,» 1971). All that commentaries on art will reflect, therefore, are the results of a shift in economy. Which leads the artist to the somber conclusion that it is doubtful whether such commentaries can be considered political. [23]

Yet, we might also take the word ‹silence,› defined as it is as the absence of sound, in its most obvious sense, namely as a reference to the sound stage of cinema. And, by extension, as a reference to the technological history of cinema itself; that is, not only as a reference to the off-screen silence that reigns in narrative cinema, but also to the very absence of sound in silent movies. Indeed, language was only to slowly penetrate the distinctly nonnarrative realm of silent movies, and with this permeation of early film by narration came a homogenization of its space concurrent with the rise of the major commercial studios.

This diversity at the beginning of cinema did not


just concern a differential specificity of the medium, as Rosalind Krauss has recently suggested. She has noted the correspondence between the look of early film and that of Broodthaers’ films with their «uneven exposures spliced together and their flickering gait«. [24] However, this comparison can be taken a step further. The heterogeneity of early cinema on the formal level was mirrored in the composite character of its public sphere. A claim that, I suggest, holds for Broodthaers’ cinema as well. The performative gesture of Broodthaers, therefore, extends across the spectacular backdrop of a mediatized society and it is there, against the homogenized background of publicity, that we can begin to read its most critical significance.

This thesis will have to await future development, but not without a brief indication of how one might proceed. To this end, Tom Gunning’s celebrated notion of a «cinema of attractions» will prove helpful. [25]

5. The Museum of Attractions

The cinema of attractions refers to a pre-classical

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