Due to unforeseen circumstances, this workshop has been cancelled until further notice.
Event | ‘Riotsville, U.S.A.: Image and Collective Action in the Essay Film’ – Workshop with Luka Arsenjuk (University of Maryland)
Date: 21 November 2023
Time: 10:00 – 13:00
Location: University of Amsterdam (Room: BG1 0.16)
Organizer: Abe Geil
Credits: 1 ECTS
Luka Arsenjuk will also give a public lecture on 20 November. More information here.
This workshop will center on Sierra Pettengill’s Riotsville, U.S.A. (2022) as a means for exploring the political affordances of the essay film more broadly and specifically in relation to images of collective action and conflict. Released in the wake of the George Floyd rebellion of 2020, Riotsville, U.S.A. thinks this recent and unprecedented event by returning us to the 1960s and offering a sort of prehistory, or perhaps some elements for a genealogy, of the contemporary riot and uprising and the state violence that takes shape in response to these forms of collective action.
Pettengill’s film derives its focus and intrigue from the fact that, following the urban uprisings of the 1960s, the U.S. military built a model town (named Riotsville; indistinguishable in its appearance from a movie set), in which it staged riots in order to practice and demonstrate military and police repression of such events. We will take up Riotsville, U.S.A. as an occasion to explore the relation of the state’s attempt to model collective human agency to the distinct forms and operations of the state imaginary. More generally, the film will allow us to identify the imaginary as a distinct function of images, which may then lead us to inquire what other functions images may occupy (symbolic? real?). And if there exist other functions of images, how does each of them relate to time and history? As an essay film composed of found footage, Riotsville, U.S.A. has to in particular be interested in the repetition of image. Our engagement with the film may therefore allow us to translate the question of image’s relationship to time into an inquiry into what makes it possible for images to repeat and to ask in what ways it is possible for images to repeat differently.
As preparation, participants will be asked to watch Riotsville, U.S.A. (a secure link will be provided with registration) and to read the following texts:
1. Joshua Clover, “Riot” in The SAGE Handbook of Marxism (2022)
2. “The Event of the Image: Between Symbol and Symptom,” Chapter 3 from Luka Arsenjuk, Movement, Action, Image, Montage: Sergei Eisenstein and the Cinema in Crisis (2018).
Luka Arsenjuk is Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Studies and Core Faculty member of the Comparative Literature Program at the University of Maryland (College Park). He is the author of Movement, Action, Image, Montage: Sergei Eisenstein and the Cinema in Crisis (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) and currently serves as one of the editors for Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture.
To receive 1 ECTS for this Workshop, PhD students and ReMA students need to: i) closely-read the assigned texts, ii) view the assigned film and iii) prepare 2-3 questions in writing. In addition, participants are strongly encouraged to attend Luka Arsenjuk’s lecture the evening before: “Heist Politics” / Nov. 20th 16-17:30h at VOX-POP.