Things that Quicken the Heart: Symposium on Chris Marker at U Penn

Chris Marker: A Symposium | Things That Quicken the Heart

Friday, March 15, 2013 – 5:30pm – Saturday, March 16, 2013 – 6:00pm

Slought Foundation, 4017 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

Things That Quicken the Heart | Chris Marker: A Symposium

The symposium will explore the work of the late French filmmaker Chris Marker, who passed away in July 2012 at the age of 91 and is widely acknowledged as one of the most prolific and inventive media artists in the history of cinema. Working continually since the 1940s, Marker directed some of the most important films in the history of world cinema, including La jetée (1962), A Grin without a Cat (1997), Sans Soleil (1982), and multi-media projects Level 5 (1996) and Immemory (1998, 2008).


Participants include:

Raymond Bellour, researcher, writer, Director of research emeritus at C.N.R.S., Paris, is interested by literature, romantic (the Brontës, Ecrits de jeunesse, 1972; Alexandre Dumas, Mademoiselle Guillotine, 1990), and contemporary (Henri Michaux, 1965, edition of his complete works in “La Pléïade”, vol. I, 1998, vol. II,  2001, vol. III, 2004, Lire Michaux, 2011) and by cinema (Le Western, 1966, L’Analyse du film, 1979, Le Corps du cinéma. Hypnoses, émotions, animalités, 2009). He is interested also by the  mixtures, the passages, the mixed states of images – painting, photography, cinema, video, virtual images – as well as by the relations between words and images (the exhibition Passages de l’image, 1989 ; the volumes L’Entre-Images. Photo, cinéma, vidéo,  1990, Jean-Luc Godard: Son+Image, 1992; L’Entre-Images 2. Mots, images, 1999, La Querelle des dispositifs. Cinéma – installations, expositions 2012 ; the exhibitions States of Images : Instants and Intervals, 2005, Thierry Kuntzel, Lumières du temps, 2006, Thierry Kunztel-Bill Viola. Deux éternités proches, 2010). He has been involved from 1991 with Serge Daney in the creation of Trafic, “revue de cinéma”.

Dominique Bluher is Lecturer on Film Studies at Harvard University. She studied in Berlin, and received her Ph.D. in film studies from Université de Paris 3. Prior to her appointment at Harvard, she has been Maître de conférences at the Université Rennes 2, where she has also been the director of a research program, and coedited two anthologies devoted to French non-fiction short films in the 1950s and 1960s. She has been an editor of the bilingual journal Iris, and served as the French correspondent for the Internationales Forum des jungen Films at the Berlin Film Festival. Her publications on French film theory, French cinema, and autobiographical filmmaking have appeared in many international journals of film theory. In 2009, she curated for the Carpenter Center of the Visual Arts Agnès Varda’s first video installation show in the United States. She is currently working on two books related to autobiography in cinema.

Christa Blümlinger, Professor in Film Studies at the University Vincennes-Saint-Denis (Paris 8). She formerly taught at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle and at the Free University Berlin. She is currently research fellow at the IKKM (Bauhaus University, Weimar). Her publications include the edition of writings of Harun Farocki (in French) and of Serge Daney (in German) and books about essay film, media art, film aesthetics and Austrian cinema. She published recently in german Kino aus Zweiter Hand. Zur Ästhetik materieller Aneignung im Film und in der Medienkunst, Vorwerk 8, 2009 (about appropriation in film and media art, forthcoming in French in 2013), and in French, Théâtres de la mémoire. Mouvement des images, co-ed. with Michèle Lagny, Sylvie Lindeperg et alii, Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, «Théorème 14», 2011.

Sam Di Iorio is Associate Professor of French at Hunter College in New York. He has written about filmmakers like Chris Marker, Jean Rouch, François Truffaut, and Jacques Rivette.

Renée Green is is an artist, filmmaker and writer. Via films, essays and writings, installations, digital media, architecture, sound-related works, film series and events her work engages with investigations into circuits of relation and exchange over time, the gaps and shifts in what survives in public and private memories as well as what has been imagined and invented. She also focuses on the effects of a changing transcultural sphere on what can now be made and thought. Her exhibitions, videos and films have been seen throughout the world in museums, biennales and festivals. Her most recent project has been the creation of the Media Bichos for MoMA Media Lounge, in New York City. Ongoing Becomings, a survey exhibition of 20 years of her work was organized in 2009 by the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne; in 2010, Endless Dreams and Time-Based Streams, a survey exhibition highlighting her time-based work was organized by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. She the Director and Associate Professor in the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology.

Bill Horrigan founded the Media Arts program at the Wexner Center for the Arts, at the Ohio State University, in 1989, and became its Curator at Large in 2010. He’s developed numerous film series and gallery exhibitions in those capacities, including projects with Chris Marker, Todd Haynes and Christine Vachon, Josiah McElheny, Mark Dion, Antonio Muntadas, Johan van der Keuken, Phil Collins, Paper Tiger Television, Bruce and Norman Yonemoto, Shirin Neshat, Julia Scher, Annie Leibovitz, Zoe Strauss, William E. Jones, Robert Beck, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Adi Nes, and John Waters, among others. He is presently co-authoring the second and final volume of the catalogue raisonne of Andy Warhol’s films, for the Andy Warhol Film Project (Museum of Modern Art/Whitney Museum of American Art/Andy Warhol Museum).

Gertrud Koch teaches cinema studies at the Free University in Berlin where she is also the director of a research center on aesthetic experience. She has taught at many international universities and was a research fellow at the Getty Center, as well as at UPenn 2010 and Brown University’s Cogut Center for Humanities in 2011. Koch has written books on Herbert Marcuse and Siegfried Kracauer, feminist film theory, and on the representation of Jewish history. She has edited numerous volumes on aesthetics, perception and and film theory. She is also a co-editor and board member of the journals Babylon, Frauen und Film, October, Constellations, and Philosophy & Social Criticism.

Lynne Sachs explores the relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together film, collage, painting, and sound. Her essay films have taken her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel and Germany — sites affected by international war — where she works in the space between a community’s collective memory and her own perceptions. Lynne’s films have screened at the New York Film Festival, Sundance, San Francisco’s beloved Other Cinema and Brooklyn’s one and only Union Docs. Her most recent film Your Day is My Night premiered at the Museum of Modern Art’s Documentary Fortnight in February, 2013. Find out more at

Hito Steyerl. Filmmaker, writer. Berlin.

Agnès Varda is one of the leading female directors of Cinema today. Her self-funded debut, the 1956 fiction-documentary hybrid La Pointe Courte is often considered the unofficial first New Wave film. In 1962, she released the seminal nouvelle vague film Cléo from 5 to 7; a bold character study that avoids psychologizing, it announced her official arrival. Over the coming decades, Varda became a force in art cinema, conceiving many of her films as political and feminist statements, and using a radical objectivity to create her unforgettable characters. She describes her style as cinécriture (writing on film), and it can be seen in audacious fictions like Le bonheur and Vagabond as well as revealing autobiographical documentaries like The Gleaners and I and The Beaches of Agnès.

Rick Warner is Assistant Professor and Kenan Fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His published articles have addressed such topics as the multimedia work of Chris Marker, the use of the long take in New Taiwanese Cinema, the critical reception of Alfred Hitchcock’s films in post-World War II France, and the videographic experiments of Jean-Luc Godard. He is guest editor of the Critical Quarterly special issue, “The Late Work of Jean-Luc Godard” (2009), and co-editor with Colin MacCabe of True to the Spirit: Adaptation and the Question of Fidelity (for Oxford University Press, 2011). He is currently at work on a book concerning cinematic uses of the essay form.


Symposium ScheduleFriday, March 15th

5:30-6:00pm | Opening Remarks by Nora M. Alter and Timothy Corrigan

6:00-7:30pm | Cats – Marker Forever | Moderated by Molly Nesbit

Raymond Bellour, Marker Forever
Coming back on the unique reality of La Jetée in film history and art, considering the experience and the statements of Immemory about a possible end of cinema, this presentation will try to follow how Chris Marker has been led from his first major installation work, Zapping Zone, to his last major film, Level Five, so to open a new space of reality through the internet, leading to his magic island of “Second Life”, in which all his previous work has been lightened, encapsulated, duplicated.

Agnès Varda

7:30-8:45pm | Reception

Saturday, March 16th

10:00-12:00pm | Elephants – An Auteur without an Image: Marker in History | Moderated by Louis Massiah

Dominique Bluher, Marker, and the “golden age of short films”
In 1958, in his article on Letter from Siberia André Bazin celebrates the birth of a new film genre. Did the formation of this new cinematic form take place overnight, or can we discover its formation not only in Marker’s earlier work, Dimanche à Pékin (1956), but also in films made by the new generation of filmmakers and producers who shaped significantly the production of non-fiction short film after WWII? This period was so fertile and inventive that it has since been referred to as the “golden age of short films.” The other cineastes of the so-called Left Bank Group (Georges Franju, Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda), and others, also created imaginative short films. Several of these cinematic experimentations present affinities with the essayistic approach, and converge and diverge with Marker’s aesthetics and politics in his early essays.

Sam Di Iorio, Buried structures, half-finished Thoughts: Statues Also Die and Night and Fog
This paper returns to the seldom-acknowledged connections between Statues Also Die and Night and Fog, the two short films Chris Marker and Alain Resnais worked on during the first half of the 1950s.  I examine how these films draw on postwar understandings of colonialism and fascism, and analyze their place within more recent debates about cinematic modernity.

Rick Warner, The Screen Pedagogies of Marker and Godard
This paper will contextualize Marker’s work in its middle and late stages through a comparison with the investigative methods of Godard during the same stretch. While the affinities between these two prolific essayists of the cinema and other audiovisual media have been frequently observed, commentators have tended to focus on their differences in order to privilege the one figure over the other. This paper will offer a fresh take on their kinship by examining how they both practice a “pedagogy of perception” following their disenchantment with political militancy. Crucial to this shift is the effort to forge a more intimate relationship with a certain kind of viewer, one who is able to take part in the experiment at hand, its risks and its rewards. At stake is not just a dialogical rapport or condition of tacit interaction but a process of “becoming dividual” into which the filmmaker and the viewer both reflectively enter. This paper will tease out and explore the ways in which Marker and Godard both devote themselves and their work to this ambition.

1:30-3:30pm | Owls – Remembrance of Films to Come: Marker and Future Media | Moderated by Timothy Corrigan

Christa Blümlinger, The Museum’s Attraction
Whether they include visits to galleries or present “found objects” or photographs to the viewer, in Chris Marker’s early films the museum exhibition constitutes a major element. The way the Rive Gauche filmmaker weaves together images, sounds, music, and commentary posits a complex relationship between movement and stillness. This in turn resonates with a kind of museum-like gestalt that prefigures his late installations and digital creations.

Gertrud Koch, When Is It History: What And How To Remember
In many films by Marker memory is seen as a function of the future and history as an open end of unfinished business. “Will the cats come back?” is a guiding question in “Chats perchés” (2004), and I will try to ask why questions of this type are crucial for Marker’s poetics. In this context my focus is on the fictionalization of history as an unsettled future

Bill Horrigan, Some Productions
Beginning in the early 1990s, Chris Marker worked with me and my colleagues at the Wexner Center for the Arts on producing a series of exhibition projects that subsequently would have a wider public circulation. I’ll discuss the development of these two projects – “Silent Movie,” a 1995 multi-media installation, and “Staring Back,” a 2007 photo exhibition – in the context of commissioning artists to develop projects for gallery presentation.

4:00-6:00pm | Wolves – The Cinema Rolls On: Filmmakers Under the Influence | Moderated by Rea Tajiri

Renée Green, Cinematic Migrations
Desire for cinema perhaps existed before its creation. Questions regarding this speculation and the variety of ways this longing has been addressed in the past and present form the basis of inquiry in the Cinematic Migrations Project, which Green initiated at MIT. The name, Cinematic Migrations, can encompass these processes as well as myriad “radical aspirations” igniting engagements with moving image forms used by people historically and in the present worldwide. Chris Marker’s work has been a touchstone in thinking about the potential, as well as realizations, of the variety of possible convergences this porous term invites. Green will discuss some of these migrations in reference to both Marker’s and her own interpretations of these possibilities.

Lynne Sachs, Pieces of Chris Marker
In 1986, filmmaker Lynne Sachs saw Chris Marker’s “Sans Soleil”. Soon after, she wrote Marker a fan letter along with a personal interpretation of the film to which he surprisingly responded. They soon met, marking the beginning of a twenty-five-year friendship that culminated in 2007 when Sachs assisted Marker on one of his projects. In her presentation, Sachs will explore their shared interest in the film portrait. The talk will examine “pieces” by both Marker and Sachs and the ways in which each artist combines cinematic fragments to document the complexities of real people’s lives.

Hito Steyerl, Lucky Cats and Other Gestures
When men die, they enter history.
When statues die,
they enter art.

When cinema dies
It acquires a body
Steyerl/von Wedemeyer

Some reflection on the death of cinema and it´s posthumuous body, based on projects of Clemens von Wedemeyer and myself.


Associated Screenings

Saturday, February 23 | 2:00pm & 7:00pm
Chris Marker’s A Grin Without a Cat (1977)
Chris Marker’s Level Five (1997)

International House | 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

March 16 | 7pm
Chris Marker’s Early Collaborations:
Walerian Borowczyk’s Les Astronautes (1959, 12 min)
Alain Resnais and Chris Marker’s Toute la mémoire du monde (1956)
Alain Resnais and Chris Marker’s Les Statues meurent aussi (1953)
Alain Resnais’s Night and Fog – Nuit et brouillard (1955)

International House | 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia



This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of Temple University’s Department of Film and Media Arts, University of Pennsylvania’s Cinema Studies Program, and Slought Foundation. Additional support has been provided by University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Fine Arts, Department of French Studies, Department of English, Penn Humanities Forum, and School of Arts and Sciences. We also acknowledge the collaboration of International House of Philadelphia and Scribe Video Center.

Jointly organized by Nora M. Alter, Timothy Corrigan, Jean-Michel Rabaté, Aaron Levy, and Nicola M. Gentili.