I You He She… Essays in Identity and Alterity

9 May - 7 June 2014

Andrew Kavanagh, Isobel Blank, Umesh Kulkarni, Ayisha Abraham, Eva Vikström, Brian Comerford and Neoconjob, Humphrey J C Millett, Super Preachers and Karl Orff, Jesse McLean, Robert-Jan Lacombe, Adam Rosenberg, Scott Camac and Nick Flight, Edmund Dixon Jung and Haw Chan Jung, Bill Taylor, Trafalgar, Apiyo Amolo, Jean-Gabriel Périot, SaintSantana, Michael Truog, and David Varela. 


Curated by Adi Chesson

A selection of local and international short films articulated along the theme of identity and otherness. These experimental works, a blend of fiction, animation and documentary, explore different modes of narration, and play on audience alienation and involvement. Bertolt Brecht’s V-Effekt was a determining factor in the evolution of art in the 20th century and drew on the notion of estranging the spectator through atypical and perturbing mechanisms. As opposed to the classical cinema, where the spectator is lulled into an almost dream-like altered state of consciousness, these distancing texts break from the illusion of reality by disrupting the flow of fiction. Characters staring into the camera challenge and address us directly, break open the “fourth wall”, that crucial boundary separating the world of fiction (diegesis) from the real world. The audience is then no longer a passive receptor but must participate in the creation of meaning through a genuine dialogue with the work.


If it could be said that all narrative art since Brecht must position itself somewhere between the two extremes of this narrative spectrum, the selection of films at hand focuses on works that explore the more radical end of the continuum. Modulated along a series of sub-themes, these films depict the quest for personal and collective identities; challenge a priori notions of sexuality and gender roles; and reach out to the spectator beyond the fourth wall of the screen. The title of the programme itself is a quotation of Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s seminal 1975 film “Je tu il elle”, an avant-garde work on the search of self as well as a striking illustration of the gaze theory and scopophilia in cinema.



About the curator


Adi Chesson is a Brussels-based film journalist from Bombay, assistant editor at Format.Court.com and curator for Short Screens. Created in 2008 by a small group of journalists and film aficionados, the webzine Format Court is dedicated to short films the world over. With numerous interviews, film and DVD reviews, considerable coverage of major European festivals, as well as a large collection of films online, it stands today as one of the leading references for the short format in the francophone world. Short Screens is an offshoot event that proposes thematic short film screenings on the last Thursday of every month in an independent art cinema in Brussels, and regularly curates cartes blanches in collaboration with Belgian and European festivals.


Adi Chesson and Mumbai Art Room would like to thank  The Internet Archives (in particular the Prelinger Collection and the Memories to Light Collection) and all the contributing artists.