After Chantal: An International Conference


AFTER CHANTAL: An International Conference

The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) at the University of Westminster is pleased to announce a two-day conference that will celebrate and critically explore the work and legacy of Chantal Akerman. The event will mark the anniversary of the filmmaker’s death and also of the UK’s first retrospective exhibition of her installation work at Ambika P3, University of Westminster, which opened in October 2015. We welcome abstracts for 20-minute papers. Themes are outlined in the concept note below.

Conference Dates:  Friday 4th November (4pm) – Sunday 6th November 2016

Conference Venue: University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London, W1B 2UW, and 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS

Confirmed Keynotes and Invited Speakers include Janet Bergstrom (UCLA), Sandy Flitterman-Lewis (Rutgers University), Dominique Paini, (Paris),  Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds), Adam Roberts (A Nos Amours) and Corinnne Rondeau (University of Nimes).

Abstract Deadline: Monday 19th September

Registration opens: Monday 3rd October

Conference Themes

“When you try to show reality in cinema, most of the time it’s totally false. But when you show what’s going on in people’s minds that’s very cinematic.”   Chantal Akerman, 2015.

The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) is hosting a two-day conference to critically explore the legacy and implications of Akerman’s work. Akerman contributed greatly to challenging the perceptions of film and cinema. Her work explored themes that included the everyday, domestic labour, psychoanalysis, migration and displacement.  She is seen as a pioneer in embracing the gallery space as a filmmaker and she contributed to the expanded cinematic form, experimenting with reflexivity, cinematic time and the frame. She worked across countries, sites and cultures as well as pre-defined conceptual, epistemological or political categories. Her method of working was distinctive in its blurring margins and crossing genres. She refused to be identified as any single ‘type’ of filmmaker, whilst contributing greatly to our contemporary understanding of film.
Participants are invited to critically explore both how Akerman disrupted the polemics of art and cinema and the lasting effects of her work. Papers can address Akerman’s work directly or explore work influenced by her under the following themes:

1        After Chantal: Nomadic Making and Resistance
‘I always resist definitions. It creates fences.’  Chantal Akerman, 2015.
Constant movement accentuated Akerman’s identity as an artist. She moved across physical locations, amongst disparate genres and subjects, and between high culture and low culture. Her nomadic approach to making produced her most successful films and numerous ventures, including television shorts, comedies, musicals and a vast body of installation work. Her methods relied on self-reflection, re-invention and a willingness to fail. She disrupted expectations and the notion of a fixed identity as an artist. How do we situate the mobile artist/filmmaker? How does nomadic thinking support a practice of constant reinvention and at what cost?
Topics can include:

–       Nomadic subversion, representation and identity

–       High theory and low theory, high culture and low culture

–       Unexpected encounters in filmmaking

–       Risk and the value of failure

2        After Chantal: Fiction and Documentary
‘It is certainly interesting to mix fiction and documentary, it’s a good thing.’  Chantal Akerman, 2015.
The factual character of film is its inherent index of reality, yet there are intriguing borders between fiction, documentary and actuality. Akerman fused non-fiction and fiction, at times replacing one with the other. Her work requests us to rethink how we negotiate these borders. How is reality shaped through film? In what ways can fiction and truth become narrative or documentary? Are there new ways of showing/viewing the everyday in and beyond existing film categories?
Topics can include:

–       Fiction as method

–       Narrative in documentary and fiction

–       The everyday

–       The politics of truth

3        After Chantal: Film as Installation
‘Yes, so there is a big difference between cinema and works in galleries. When it is an installation, which is rarely narrative, every moment of the work should grab you, and cause you to stay. Time is no longer decided by the stage director but by the public.’  Chantal Akerman, 2015.
Akerman’s installation work has helped to rethink the role of film as installation. This session will approach video and film installation in relation to space, the curated exhibition, performativity and counterculture. Can film installation move us to new ways of thinking about space and art? What is the interaction between space, narrative and audience?
Topics can include:

–       The cinematic turn in contemporary art

–       Narrative and installation

–       Film as intervention

–       Spectator, time and space

4        After Chantal: Legacy
‘As for experimental cinema, I do not know where to find it.’  Chantal Akerman, 2015.
Experimental cinema is today a fragmented practice located in a variety of contexts. We invite presenters to explore the idea of legacy through work influenced by Akerman. We invite presentations of projects and practices that continue her work of challenging perceptions of film and video today, as display, process or medium. Where does Akerman’s influence currently exist and how can it be manifested in the future?

Deadline for Abstracts

We welcome proposals for papers of a maximum of 20 minutes addressing any one of the above themes. Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words.  These should include the presenter’s name, affiliation, email and postal address, together with the title of the paper and a 150-word biographical note on the presenter. Abstracts should be sent to Michael Maziere at<> and arrive no later than Monday 19 September 2016.

Programme and Registration

This conference will take place from 4.00pm on Friday 4 November to late afternoon Sunday 6 November 2016.  Registration will open in October 2016.

Conference Team

Michael Maziere, Rosie Thomas, May Ingawanij, Treasa O’Brien, Aislinn White.
Conference administrator: Karen Foster.