ethnographies

This page started as a pre-archive page for an imagined event – The Bioskop Presents… a Jean Rouch Night  – but it’s rapidly expanded into a more general look at ethno-fictions, fake ethnologies, documentaries and artists films that are influenced by ethnographic filmmaking and more.  You’ll see that our definition of ethnographic film is wide…

If you have any ideas you want to share on the topic please put them in the comments, or you can write your own post if you send it to us at bioskop@cubecinema.com.

funk lessons

Last modified on 2013-07-18 14:07:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

excerpt from funk lessons by Adrian Piper, 1985

call of the wild

Last modified on 2013-07-01 16:54:56 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

call of the wild

Spartacus Chetwynd’s Call Of The Wild is on Ubu web here.

all that is solid melts into air

Last modified on 2013-07-03 13:16:19 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

A two screen installation by Mark Boulos filmed with members of The Movement for the Emancipation of the the Niger Delta, and traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (on the first day of the economic collapse of 2008.)

ALL THAT IS SOLID MELTS INTO AIR from Emiliano Battista on Vimeo.

When I saw Boulos speaking recently he said the film had been influenced by Rouch’s Maitres Fous, not so much by the methodology behind the work as by the beauty of Rouch’s camera work and colours.

But there do seem to be further connections between the two films, in the way they depict power relations being performed and embodied. In Maitres Fous the Hauka’s possession trance acts out (and appropriates the power?) of the state and military rituals of the occupying colonial administration… in All That Is Solid the stock brokers gestures embody the abstract flows of the global financial markets, at their point of collapse.

The Mendi

Last modified on 2013-06-28 13:59:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

mendi from Steve r on Vimeo.

A man in his forties thinks back to when, in 1975 in his teens, he was sent along with a film crew making a documentary in Papua New Guinea for the tv series Man Alive.
I can dimly remember these kind of films on tv in the seventies. The people filmed were always portrayed very obviously as the primitive other, but the narrator’s monologue undercuts the images ” I took no interest in the Mendi – they seemed so rational, so straightfoward.”

Now it’s 2006 and I’m forty-eight. It’s time to start a new life. It is time to start a new life and I’m looking for models. I know I won’t find anything here. The Mendi way of life is not a viable option — even for the Mendi. I want to say that I’ve been to the dream house, and I’ve been to the bone house, and I’ve eaten human flesh and it tasted like ash or it tasted like pork. But they wouldn’t let me go to the bone house and when I snuck into the dream house I found nothing. And the Mendi said that they never ate their ancestors, that was those other tribes. But all the other tribes say that as well. I still want to be a cannibal not so much any more for the pleasure of eating human flesh as for the pleasure of vomiting it.

from Steve Reinke’s site – my rectum is not a grave

you didn’t expect to see this sort of dancing…

Last modified on 2015-10-27 15:05:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Unite and unite and let us all unite,
For summer is acome unto day,
And whither we are going we will all unite,
In the merry morning of May.

To celebrate the 1st of May, and some sunshine after the long winter and invisible spring we’re posting Alan Lomax’s Oss, Oss, Wee Oss from 1953. The film documents the ‘Obby ‘Oss festival , held each year in Padstow in Cornwall .

It was only after watching Oss, Oss that we noticed what the youtube poster had written about it…

Traditional English Folk Culture has been all but destroyed as it has been legally forced to give way to alien cultures, Multi-Culturalism is a lie. For a Culture to live, it must be protected and nurtured. No two Cultures can coexist, without one being destroyed. In the case of European Culture, the Governments of Europe have criminalised our ways, and forced us to tolerate that which destroys us. Enough is enough! Let us say no to the Multi-Cultists and the globalist harmonisers.
Our Culture is worth defending, and strengthening. If that means other culture must give way to us, in our own lands, then so be it. Our Lands – Our Culture!
No to internationalism and all those who wish to reduce humanity to bland indistinguishable producer-consumers, devoid of tradition and a sense of place in the sacred union of blood and soil.”

Its depressing to see Lomax’s great film being claimed by UKIP types, even more so when they use a phrase like Blood and Soil that comes directly from Nazi ideology.

The Folkloric – traditions, festivals, folk songs, tales – have often been claimed by different ideological factions… sometimes with farcical results. In the ’50s the Left in the USA and Britain saw folk music as their territory (often in a puritanically earnest way). In the Balkan conflicts of the nineties (echoing the extreme nationalism and racism of the Nazi period) turbo folk – a cheesily techno-fied version of local folk music – soundtracked the Milosevic and Karadzic regimes.

turbo folk

wait fest

In the UK – for the last decade or so, its not so much a political group, as an entrepreneurial class of event managers and graphic designers who have co-opted the symbology of the folkloric to sell their products – boutique festivals marketed like a hybrid of Waitrose and The Wicker Man.

But if the right continue to rise in the UK we’ll probably be reading more rants like the post under Oss, Oss, Wee Oss.  Ironically the film’s impact on the community it documents demonstrates the obvious fact that it’s miscegnation (ie cross-breeding), messiness and complication that create culture in the first place – not any kind of purity.

For the shoot the (north american) filmmakers  asked people to wear red and white because it looked good on the film stock they were using – after which it became the tradition to wear red and white every year…

Enjoy the film!

ps. Bioskop are going to be out and about this summer – first up we’ll be appearing under a hedgerow at Sin Eater Festival in Shropshire, and then at Supernormal Festival… showing a bunch of films to delight and annoy you.

statues also die – chris marker and alain resnais 1953

Last modified on 2012-11-19 16:39:49 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Cannibal Holocaust

Last modified on 2012-10-28 17:34:42 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

I hear a new world / Holy Ghost People / Staten Island

Last modified on 2012-11-19 16:58:23 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

A great youtube mix up by MickTravisBickole of Joe Meek’s closeted space ballad I Hear A New World running over the top of excerpts from Peter Adair’s Holy Ghost People.



Holy Ghost People
is filmed around a service at a Pentecostal Community in Scrabble Creek, West Virginia, which includes speaking in tongues, singing, dancing and snake handling. The film was made in 1967 on a shoestring by Peter Adair who was 24 at the time, with support from amongst others Steve Reich recording sound.
Peter Adair went on as part of the Mariposa Film Group to co-direct the queer cinema classic Word is Out, the first feature length documentary about gay and lesbian culture, released in 1977.

and finally we swing back to Joe Meek again… whose Telstar soundtracks Vivienne Dick’s Staten Island(1978) where a down at heal glitter alien emerges from a polluted river and wanders along the shoreline sifting through trash…

cannibal tours

Last modified on 2012-10-23 10:43:57 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

dennis o’rourke, 1988

the map and the territory

Last modified on 2012-09-24 09:36:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

His grandmother’s body was already resting in an oak coffin. She wore a dark dress, her eyes were closed and her hands joined; the employees of the funeral parlour were simply waiting for Jed and his father to close the lid. They left them alone, for about ten minutes, in the bedroom. ‘It’s better for her,’ said his father after some silence. Yes, probably, thought Jed. ‘She believed in God, you know,’ his father added timidly.

The following day, during the funeral Mass, which the whole village attended, and then again in front of the church, as they received condolences, Jed told himself that he and his father were remarkably adapted to this sort of circumstance. Pale and weary, both dressed in sober suits, they had no difficulty in expressing the required seriousness and resigned sadness; they even appreciated, without being able to believe in it, the note of discreet hope struck by the priest – a priest who himself was old, and old hand at funerals, which had to be, given the average age of the population, far and away his main activity.

After returning to the house, where they were served the vin d’honneur, Jed realised that this was the first time that he had attended a serious funeral, à l’ancienne, a funeral which didn’t attempt to dodge the reality of death. Several times in Paris, he had attended cremations. The last one was of a fellow student at the Beaux-Arts who had been killed in a plane crash during his holidays in Lombok; he had been shocked that some of those present hadn’t bothered to switch off their mobiles before the moment of cremation.

His father left just afterwards: he had a business meeting the following morning in Paris. Jed went out into the garden. The sun was setting as the rear lights of the Mercedes disappeared in the direction of the motorway, and he thought again of Geneviève. They had been lovers for a few years, while he was studying at the Beaux-Arts; it was with her, in fact, that he had lost his virginity.

Geneviève was Malagasy, and had explained to him the curious exhumation customs practiced in her country. One week after the death, the corpse was dug up, the shroud was undone, and a meal was eaten in its presence, in the family’s dining room; then it was buried again.
This was repeated after a month, then after three; he no longer could remember the details very well, but it seemed there were no less than seven exhumations in all, the last one taking place a year after the death, before the deceased was definitively considered dead, and capable of achieving eternal rest. This system of accepting death, and the physical reality of the corpse, went precisely against the modern Western sensibility, Jed thought, and fleetingly regretted having let Geneviève leave his life.

from the map and the territory by Michel Houellebecq

terminal bar + lift

Last modified on 2011-11-30 17:30:31 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Two astounding documentaries that look at the people passing through two particular locations – a bar and a lift.

workers leaving the googleplex

Last modified on 2010-11-10 17:41:58 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Workers Leaving the Googleplex (Rough Cut) from Andrew Norman Wilson on Vimeo.

An account by Andrew Norman Wilson of his attempt to make a film – “An analysis of the transition from industrial labour to information labour…” while working for Google.

To whom it may concern
Yesterday I was outside the Google Book Search building which is adjacent to the building I work in, and had the chance to talk to a few employees while they were leaving work.  Most of them are people of colour and are supposedly involved in the labour of digitizing information.  I’m interested in issues of class, race and labour and so out of general curiosity I wanted to ask these workers about their jobs.
I’m aware of  internal mechanisms for discussing labour issues with Google and had no intention of defaming the company.  I was not aware of how secretive the Book Search project is, but now understand how seriously my curiosity could jeopardize not only my own job and Transvideo’s relationship with Google, but also my legal situation because of the non-disclosure agreement I signed.  I apologise for bothering you with this innocent mistake and can assure you that in the future I will be more cautious about respecting confidentiality at Google.
Sincerely Andrew Wilson

It’s fascinating that what is often thought of as the first film – the Lumiere Brother’s Workers Leaving the Factory , is a study of the the factory, and the workers, who made the first movie cameras, film, and processing equipment that brought the first films into existence.
In other words the first film is a study of the economy and means of production of itself.

Rituals – Martin Parr, Ben Russell and Lightning Bolt

Last modified on 2010-12-03 15:34:26 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

United Kingdom by Martin Parr

Ben Russell‘s film of fans at a Lightning Strike concert Black and White Trypps Number 3.

Ben Russell says that the film was directly influenced by Jean Rouch – “I was trying to imagine what a corollary within my own culture could be to the Hauka of Les Maîtres fous.”

“The notion that any sort of representation could err on the side of objectivity has always seemed especially suspect to me. Since a fairly exciting toss-up in the 60s and 70s (involving such characters as Rouch, Asch, and Gardner), ethnography seems to have resolved its problems of representation by declaring its allegiance to science, and not art. This makes for a pretty easy target, and since I’m generally more interested in art than science, I’d rather keep working on finding new ways to deal with understanding and not-understanding the world. Knowledge seems much too contingent on context to hope for much else.”

les maitres fous

Last modified on 2010-10-14 22:40:04 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Here’s Les Maitres Fous from 1955, like many Rouch films the meaning of what you’re watching suddenly takes on a different light at the end of the film.

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