27 Years Without Images (on the Possibility of Cinema after Revolution)

A series of programs with Eric Baudelaire about the relationship of activist cinema to revolution


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Artistic legacies
  • Memory
  • Pedagogy
  • Philosophy / Theory
  • Politics / Economics

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Program in Film Studies and Center for Visual Culture, Bryn Mawr College


Homay King

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


75% Formal - 25% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "27 years without images (on the possibility of cinema after revolution)," an evening film screening and conversation with artist Eric Baudelaire and film theorist Homay King, of Bryn Mawr College, on Monday, February 20, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm at Slought. The event will begin with a screening of Eric Baudelaire's The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Years without Images (2011, 66 minutes).

In Eric Baudelaire's film, the political and personal journeys of the Japanese Red Army are reexamined as an anabasis (see below), at once a lost path towards the unknown and a return towards home. From Tokyo to Beirut amid the post-1968 ideological fever, and from Beirut to Tokyo after the end of the Cold War, the thirty-year itinerary of a radical fringe of the revolutionary left is recounted by two of its protagonists. May Shigenobu — daughter of Fusako Shigenobu, who founded the small group — witnessed it closely.

Born in secrecy in Lebanon, a clandestine life was all May Shigenobu knew until age 27. But a new era began in her life with her mother's arrest in 2000 and her adaptation to a suddenly very public existence. The second character is Masao Adachi, the legendary Japanese avant-garde director who joined the Japanese Red Army and the Palestinian cause in 1974. For this theorist of fûkeiron (a movement of filmmakers who sought to reveal the structures of power by filming landscapes) his 27 years of voluntary exile were without images, since those he filmed in Lebanon were destroyed during the war.

Words, testimony and (false) memory structure the film. Two intersecting accounts, mixing personal stories, political history, revolutionary propaganda and film theory. Two stories of imageless clandestinity in which images are nonetheless constantly at stake. They are completely absent from May Shigenobu's secret life, but they become the means of self-invention when she becomes a public figure. As a filmmaker, Adachi devoted his life to images. Even during his years in Lebanon he conceives of the preparation for an airplane highjacking as a screenplay, entrusting the role of making images from his script to the media rather than to a cinematographer. Did Adachi abandon activist cinema for an activism without cinema, or should the revolution itself be thought of as a film?

The wandering of May and Fusako Shigenobu and Masao Adachi occurs between the Far and the Middle East, between images of reality and those of fiction, between a radical political engagement and an unsettling fascination with violence. Their paths are symbolic of the political development of a whole era: a radicalization that turns activism into armed struggle, then the gradual collapse of the ideological context of the 1960s, now coming to an end in a spectacularly depoliticized contemporary Japan.

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About Anabasis

In his chronicle of the retreat of the Ten Thousand, Xenophon names Anabasis a homeward movement of people who are out of place and outside the law. The term symbolizes the collapse of the order that gave meaning to the presence of Greek mercenaries who had come to wage war against the Persians after the sudden death of Cyrus, their commander. The Greek army has to beat a retreat without any guide, without knowing the way; they go from being heroes to being foreigners in a hostile country.

Eric Baudelaire was born in 1973 in Salt Lake City, USA. He lives and works in Paris. Through film, photography, printmaking and installation, he explores the relationship between images and events, documents and narratives. He has recently had exhibitions at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Elizabeth Dee Gallery in New York, Juana de Aizpuru in Madrid, Greta Meert in Brussels, and is preparing an exhibition at Gasworks in London.

His films were selected at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and his work is present in several public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centre Pompidou, the Fond National d'Art Contemporain, and the FRAC Auvergne.

Associated Exhibition

Slought is pleased to announce "The music of Ramón Raquello," an exhibition of work by the artist Eric Baudelaire, on display from February 13-March 13, 2012. The three works in this exhibition are diverse in material and structure: "Sugar Water" is a video installation, "Chanson d'Automne" a newspaper collage, and "Ante-Memorial" a set of letters. Each of these works imagines a disaster - potential or actual, past or ongoing - and invites speculation about what forms resistance might take in its aftermath.

The exhibition's title references Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio play and its fictional orchestra whose music is interrupted by reports of an alien invasion (in fact, the music was performed by the CBS house band under the direction of Bernard Herrmann). Pressing the line between fiction and fact, the three works juxtapose historical givens with historical possibility, and solicit reflection about alternate futures, images, and forms of coexistence.

Eric Baudelaire's Chanson d'Automne is on display courtesy of Elizabeth Dee Gallery, NY.