Tecmerin. Journal of Audiovisual Essays
Nº7 2021 (1)
Diego Ginartes & Valentín Vía
“May 1973. I buy a camera. I want to start filming by myself and for myself.” In the first seconds of his work, David Perlov makes us witness the aesthetic and ethical pillars that epitomize Diaries (1983). This is an example of his aversion to conventional film production structures that, according to the author himself, remain stuck in the past and do not allow him enough creative freedom. These premises also provide visual evidence of the primordial place through which the viewer accompanies Perlov throughout the following decades in his film diaries. A primordial and mediating place, the frame of a window, which, like the lens of a camera, enables the viewer to observe the real without taking sides. A window that delimits, frames, and defines what is contemplated. A tenuous dimension of transition between an intimate and interior state and another strange, alien one. Thereby, an allegorical mechanism of contemplative transit is configured, allowing to communicate two scenes that would otherwise be isolated; a revealing surface of passage between two existences that, with centripetal force, induces the filmmaker to a series of reflections about his identity, belonging, and the future.
A treatise inscribed in the genealogical subjectivity of the Jewish emanates from this allegorical mechanism, which he shares with Belgian-born filmmaker Chantal Akerman in her work Là-bas (2006). The refractory effect between the two works is evident, but despite this, Perlov configures his register by wandering between interiors and exteriors. Akerman provides a fixed, unique point of view from the inside to the outside, exerting minimal intervention in what she shows. The Belgian director, with her distant observation of the alien, creates a statement that stems from waiting and from a place that she considers strange. Akerman engages in a story that creates tensions between a historical memory and a personal memory, sometimes narrating stories and, other times, telephone conversations with her mother. This figure, the maternal one, emerges in Akerman’s work as a vectorial axis for the construction of post-memory narratives. Conceptualized by Hirsch (2015), this term refers to memories, ideas, and experiences of a historical trauma that, when transmitted from one generation that has experienced it first-hand to another, are shaped in the receiving generation with a unique specificity. The peculiarity of the Là-bas’ approach relies on uniting the most personal oral chronicle with referential images of the historical moment it witnessed and, simultaneously, configuring the key leitmotiv in both works: the permanent construction of the state of Israel and, therefore, that of their own subjectivities.
Diary and Là-bas are characterized as autobiographical films rooted in a profound life experience-that is, the approximation to Jewish identity. Their relationship with this territory is carried out under the intention not to relate about but from Israel, as an intimate and non-transferable experience. Both films are framed through narratives of diaspora, projecting a materialized desire of return. However, a further stage emerges, these two directors do not return to the promised or native land, but to a new land of exile, at first liberating, but artificially conceived. The starting point and, at the same time, the vanishing point, the house, stands as a space that hosts images of a protected intimacy, with the capacity to evoke memories of unsuspected depth. It is a constant fold with an air of estrangement for Akerman and an insatiable search for Perlov; two ways of looking at their personal and, in the end, collective memories from their own, freer, formal cinematographic conception.
The two films that compose this audiovisual essay converge through the allegorical representation of the window as a revealing axis of thought between two separate and independent dimensions. In Window Diaries, a dialectical game of two autonomous stages is proposed. Akerman accompanies Perlov’s suggestive images with her oral and personal account. Both authors offer particular reflections on a permanently changing identity, one that is intrinsically linked to the city they portray, Tel Aviv, passing through this third stage of thought.
- Hirsch, Marianne (2015). La generación de la posmemoria. Escritura y cultura visual después del Holocausto. Traducido por Pilar Cáceres. Madrid: Carpe Noctem.
How to cite this article: Ginartes, D. & Vía, V. (2021) Window Diaries. Tecmerin. Journal of Audiovisual Essays, 7(1). ISSN: 2659-4269
Other videoessays in this issue:
The Representation of Rape On Screen: How the Gaze Influences our (Mis)Conceptions of Sexual Assault
Lucie Emch (SOAS, University of London)
How To Cook When Instant Food Doesn’t Fill You Up
Claudia Bielsa Gómez Tostón Salazar, Nuria de Andrés Masa & Bahía Delgado Manso (UC3M)
Ocho apellidos vascos and Spanish Popular Culture
Milagros Valerio, Claudia Sánchez & Mar Muñoz (UC3M)