Friday, January 6 - Sunday, January 8, 2017
Peter Watkins's The Journey
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Introduced by Rachael Rakes and Leo Goldsmith
The Journey, Peter Watkins, 1987, 16mm, 870 mins
Since the late 1950s, Peter Watkins has engineered a unique form of moving image practice, making collaborative, hybrid non-fiction as interventionist art. His films, including The War Game, Edvard Munch, Punishment Park, and La Commune (Paris, 1871), are complex, deeply engaged essays on social struggle and the mediation of history and contemporary life. His career-long preoccupation has been with turning historical drama and future speculation into insurgent political cinema, through a method of production that invites both participants and spectators to think critically about the ways in which media shape our understanding of the past and the present.
The Journey is Watkins’s most ambitious experiment with form: at once a documentary, a dystopian science fiction film, a handbook for media analysis, and an organizational structure linking activist groups throughout the world. From 1983 to 1986, he undertook a transcontinental project to map the corrosive anticipation of impending nuclear catastrophe. Watkins worked with an international network of support groups to raise money and assemble crews while shooting the film in the US, Canada, Norway, Scotland, France, West Germany, Mozambique, Japan, Australia, Polynesia, Mexico, and the Soviet Union. The result is a fourteen-hour cartography of capitalism, historical memory, and fear that weaves together an analysis of the global arms race, recollections of survivors of the bombings in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Hamburg, and community preenactments of possible disaster scenarios. It is also a sustained critique of the media’s role in distraction, misinformation, and the normalization of nuclear geopolitical strategy, environmental destruction, gender inequality, the erosion of public education, and the spread of world hunger. Mixing nighttime news tropes, culture-jamming tactics, and even a dash of comedic animation, The Journey also continually questions and makes visible its own formal strategies. Watkins encourages us to challenge how we take in media, information, and entertainment, and, furthermore, to take them over.
Once again, we face political and social crises similar to the conditions of the 1980s, now with an updated vocabulary for disasters in progress—Standing Rock, Flint, Fukushima, Iran, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, India, China, Diablo Canyon, San Onofre, Sequoyah, Watts Bar, Indian Point. Once again, the helplessness of the citizen, the artist, and the activist are pitted against hysterical militarization and the relentless pursuit of energy in its most volatile forms. Thirty years on, The Journey has lost little of its relevance, and the long and complex struggle that it stages is now more urgent than ever. - RR/LG
Friday, January 6
7pm: Chapters 1-2 + Discussion
Saturday, January 7
2pm: Chapters 3-5 + Discussion
5pm: Chapters 6-8 + Discussion
8pm: Chapters 9-10
Sunday, January 8
2pm: Chapters 11-13 + Discussion
5pm: Chapters 14-16 + Discussion
8pm: Chapters 17-19
Each chapter runs approximately 45 minutes.
Rachael Rakes and Leo Goldsmith are the editors of the film section of The Brooklyn Rail and authors of a forthcoming book on Peter Watkins, which was awarded an Arts Writers Grant by Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation in 2015. Rakes is a Programmer at Large for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, an Editor at Large for Verso Books, and an independent curator and critic focusing on nonfiction aesthetics. Goldsmith is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University, and writes on film and media for Artforum, art-agenda, Cinema Scope, and the Village Voice.
Tickets - Pay what you wish ($10 suggested donation), available at door. A single ticket is valid for entry to the entire sequence of screenings.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens 30 minutes prior to the day's first screening.