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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathBroodthaers

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period of film that lasted to circa 1907. Gunning opposes this phrase to the more common one of primitive film since he argues that early film established a specific mode of spectatorship that is repressed, and not simply superseded, by the narrative film genre of Hollywood. He contrasts, for instance, the frequent use of a mode of direct address in early cinema to the absorptive structure of classical cinema. «Theatrical display,» in Gunning’s summary of early film experience, «dominates over narrative absorption, emphasizing the direct stimulation of shock or surprise at the expense of unfolding a story or creating a diegetic universe.» [26] Thus early cinema offered a popular attraction in the tradition of the vaudeville or burlesque—a filmic event that was orchestrated by the live presence of a cinema showman.

It has often been stated that Broodthaers assumed the outmoded roles of the collector and amateur. To these types we might add the historical figure of the cinema showman. The function of this performer was to adapt the film program to the changing circumstances of architectural setting and social events and to elicit an active engagement of the


audience. Likewise, Broodthaers’ exhibition practice was characterized by its endless reshuffling of content, its shifting relation to the institutional context, and its theatrical mode of presentation. The «Section Cinéma» can be described, in other words, as a mise-en-scène of the composite public sphere of early cinema; it re-enacted the primal conflict between a performative and reproductive mode of cinema that predated the final rise of the studio system and its industrial organization of the public sphere. This mise-en-scène, however, functioned only as a theater of memory for it could not reverse the erosion of social experience already underway.

To back up my claim, I might end by referring to the film program that Broodthaers screened in the «Section Cinéma.» This program achieved a deliberate alternation and confusion between different cinematic genres. First of all, a quasi-documentary about the founding of the Musée d’Art Moderne called «Une discussion inaugurale» (1968), which follows a meandering trajectory, that comes to no conclusion. Secondly, a combination travelogue and historical fiction called «Un Voyage à

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