The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time: Afterlives of the militant image

A programme of KASK/HoGent in the framework of the research project ‘Figures of Dissent’ and the EU project ‘The Uses of Art – The Legacy of 1848 and 1989’ (confederation L’internationale), in conjunction with L'œil se noie, an exhibition of KIOSK with work by Eric Baudelaire & Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc (KIOSK, 05/04 – 15/06/2014).

“The impossible is the least that one can demand.” 
- James Baldwin

There was a time when cinema was believed to make a difference, to be able to act as a weapon in struggle, to operate as a realm of discord. The so-called ‘militant cinema’ was not only considered as a tool to bear witness but also to intervene in the various political upheavals and liberation movements that shook the world in the 1960s and 1970s. What remains of this unassailable alliance between cinema and politics?

After the flames had died down, all that seemed to be left was a wreckage of broken promises and shattered horizons. Today it feels like we have been living through a long period of disappointment and disorientation, while the sense of something lacking or failing is spreading steadily. An overwhelming melancholy seems to have taken hold of our lives, as if we can only experience our time as the ‘end times’, when the confidence in politics is as brittle as our trust in images. Perhaps that is why, for those who came after, there is a growing tendency to look back at an era when there was still something to fight for, and images were still something to fight with. Can a re-imagining of old utopian futures shed a new light on our perceived dead-end present, in view of unexpected horizons? Can an understanding of past dreams and illusions lead to reinvigorated notions of responsibility, commitment and resistance? Can a dialogue with the period in question help us to find the very principles and narratives capable of remedying its impasses? And how can this questioning help us to think about how cinema, unsure of its own politics, can be ‘political’ today? in light of a potential rebirth of politics, would it still be possible for the art of cinema to appeal to the art of the impossible?

With the support of the research groups S:PAM & PEPPER (UGent), art centre Vooruit, BAM institute for visual, audiovisual and media art, Eye on Palestine, Embassies of Mexico and France.