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Forum of the Real 2019: Identities

by Alexandra Martins, Luís Lima e Rita Morais / 29 10 2019


See alignment of three panels here: Of Earth; Of Image; Of Thought.

Throughout its history, cinema has always built identities, even to better deconstruct them. We are talking about personas and characters, performative apparitions, self-fictions and biographies and even author cinema, that is, signature. In cinema, the question of identity involves much more than filmmakers, although we can assume that it begins and ends with them. But characters, themes, plans, audiences, circuits and even the labels assigned to each genre are all elements of constitution or deconstruction of identities, that is, of singularities. In fact, the technical device permanently requires the recognition of an author, an audience, a gender or a style. And then, there is also the philosophical question, the psychological fixation, the anthropological debate, the sociological, political and even legal approach to the notion of identity. Identities are constituted, conquered, recognized. But identities also solidify, crystallize and institutionalize themselves, fixing, haunting and terrifying. But who does not claim to have the right to an identity, to be recognized as a citizen? After all, isn't this one of the fundamental issues, for instance, within the sans-papiers struggle? Without constituting an identity, can one even think of multiplying it, reconstructing it or declining it in genders? 

Thus, and because the subject is too broad and complex to be approached in a generalist way, Forum of the Real intends to approach the theme in a triple way: identities of the earth, of image, of thought. If, in the first place, the question of territory is perhaps opposed to that of country or nation, the geographies of affection, the multiplicities and diversities of a community or the art of recognition constitute conceptual beacons for this debate between a geographer, an anthropologist and an artist: Álvaro Domingues, Susana de Matoes Viegas and Ben Rivers. How can these different practices contribute and/ or point to a way out of the intricate contemporary scene (as we might call it, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Pirocene, etc.) in which the possibility of a sustainable relationship between nature and technique seems to be undermined?

The second panel will be devoted to the relationship between image and identity, having as main object of discussion the cinematic images (in its widest sense, including video art). Throughout its (recent) history, the act of filming has been a privileged instrument in the construction and representation of identities (both individual and collective) but also of alterities (a question that always comes back: how to film the other?), in close relationship with memory. From Zygmunt Bauman's identity liquidity to Thomas Elsaesser's hyphenated cinema, this panel intends to discuss how contemporary cinema has been confronted with the identity contaminations of postmodernity from a cinematic praxis perspective, with contributes by Daniel Ribas (researcher), Pedro Mexia (critic) and Christiana Perschon (filmmaker).

In the third table, the discussion will focus on philosophical issues. Without wishing to answer Nietzsche's question "how do you become who you are?", we intend to discuss around the concept of identity, having as background notions like "identity without person", by Giorgio Agamben, "singular plural", by Jean-Luc Nancy, or Jean-Arthur Rimbaud's well-known phrase, "I is another". Between philosophy and literature, mental images and contemporary thought, Marie-José Mondzain (philosopher), António Guerreiro (essayist) and Valérie Massadian (director) will discuss the vicissitudes of a concept that, since classical antiquity, remains as unavoidable as indiscernible. After all, this is nothing more than the Aristotelian problematic of socrateity, what’s to say, the idea that Socrates' identity is the property of being identical with itself. It’s within this context of difference and repetition (invoking the title of Gilles Deleuze's first great book on the ontology of the univocal being), of identity and diversity, that guests speakers will carry out a work of thought on identities.


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