Volume 41, Number 2: Issue on Documentary: “HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU”

October 2022

This isn’t Casablanca, it’s not 1942 and I’m not Humphrey Bogart but Border Crossings is looking at Documentary and the myriad ways in which it is engaged.

An interview with Wolfgang Tillmans opens the issue. His survey exhibition, “To look without fear,” is on now at MoMA in New York. When he says, in his interview with Border Crossings, “this body is all we have, and the body is the mystery and the body is the journey…,” you have to read on. What is the nature of this document?

Eyal Weizman is the founding director of the research agency, Forensic Architecture. Among their more than 81 investigations into state violence and human rights violations are those whose components are airborne. Here it is not the celestial that he refers to; it is clouds and vanishing trails of vapour, but the divine plays no part. In his interview with Border Crossings Eyal Weizman calls up tear gas, explosions, smoke and massive drifting toxins as vanishing but searing traces of deliberate destructive and violent intent.

Filmmaker Jill Godmilow has just published a book titled Kill the Documentary. Questioning, wrestling, resisting all the way, she has produced films of startling variety and significance. Eyes wide open, her subjects have been as varied as the nightmare of the Vietnam War, an imagined life of Gertrude Stein, the unlikely pairing of Roy Cohn and Jack Smith and the small brave heroine of the Solidarity Movement in Cold War Poland.

Legendary Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin has produced courageous, essential films shaped by her own history as an Indigenous child growing up in a country that was hers but was nonetheless racist and hostile. The films she has produced are clear-eyed and full of inescapable truths. Her generous and resilient spirit bring a prevailing joy that helps ameliorate the mean truths but still doesn’t allow us to turn away from the weight of the message, nor the responsibility we bear.

This issue offers readers two photo portfolios—documents from very different sources. Donigan Cumming’s Even As the Falcon Plummets makes augmented beauty from Nature’s decay and Kegan McFadden’s A Separate Peace is endless pairings of men and boys, moving away.

There is a stunning essay on filmmaker Michael Klier’s ominous, intense, elliptical film Der Riese; Jarrett Earnest’s Devotion—archival, poignant, necessary; and photographer Arni Haraldsson looks at films looking at photographs, looking at us, looking at them.

In this scopophilic, unrelentingly interesting issue on Documentary you will also find: Niigaan Sinclair’s “Nibi onje bimaadiziwin”; Barry Schwabsky’s column on new photo/art books; R Holland Murray; Leonard Cohen; Ed Pien; Sunil Gupta; Roland Barthes; Shirin Neshat; Heesoo Kwon and very many others.

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