SoAH Research Presents: Philippe-Alain Michaud

Aby Warburg, detail from Atlas

Aby Warburg : Mnemosyne, or the Cinematographic Machine Without Apparatus. Philippe-Alain Michaud
Presented by the DOCUMENTS research group
18 May 2018 | 6.30pm – 9pm
RCA Battersea, Dyson Building

For this forthcoming Visual Cultures Lecture, the Documents Research Group presents a special event with Philippe-Alain Michaud, titled Aby Warburg : Mnemosyne, or the Cinematographic Machine Without Apparatus.

Contemporary art and also literature has a predilection for documents of all sorts: photographic records, archives, official papers. Documents provide information but also trigger a poetics of memories as well as a form of fiction. It is impossible to think of  the word document without referring to Georges Bataille and his journal Documents (1929–30), which aimed to be ‘a war machine against received ideas’.  His documents are informed by his notion of base materialism that stands in opposition to an elevated idea of art or poetry. 

The seminar will consider different documentary modes and strategies, from Aby Warburg to Gerhard Richter’s Atlas; from Gustave Flaubert’s writing and diaries to the photography of Walker Evans, to name only a few. It will also explore works from disciplines outside of art, such as ethnography and  anthropology. It is in the sense of an objective fiction that we will endeavour to expand, discuss and practice a poetics of the document that will call into question received ideas at the same time as it produces new ones.

Philippe-Alain Michaud is a curator at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, in charge of the film collection. He is the author of Aby Warburg (Zone Books, 2002), The Image in Motion (Macula 2012), Le peuple des images (Desclée de Brouwer, 2004) and Sur le film (Macula, 2016), and has written extensively on the relations between film and visual arts. He has curated a number of exhibitions, such as: Comme le rêve le dessin (Musée du Louvre/Centre Pompidou, 2004), Le mouvement des images (Centre Pompidou, 2006), and Beat Generation (Centre Pompidou, 2016).