Focus Scientific Research

Another cinema: The films of Marguerite Duras

Edith Futscher

Institute of Art Sciences
In the applied research project Duras's poetics of intermediality is to be referred back to aspects of the history of discourse, to epistemological, ethical, social and political aspects: Duras's filmic discussion of picture theory and her iconic criticism, the exposition of reading as looking and looking as reading and the analysis of the resulting pictorial language shall be put into a framework of questions drawn from the discourse of cultural studies. The film work of Duras can be characterized by an emptying of images; the artistic strategies which bring forth this emptiness shall become recognizable as procedures corresponding to the contemporary concepts of alterity, cultural and sexual difference. The analysis of Duras's filmic examination of colonialism, the un/representability of disaster and history, especially of the Shoah, the unrepresentability of suffering and grief, the modes of the autobiographical and womanliness shall lead to a more precise reconstruction of her poetics and clarify their origins.

Of interest are especially the overlapping areas between a complex discussion of colonialism and the representation of sexuality and gender, which have led to an exposition of figures of blankness and vacancy, to a poetics of the unavailable. Contemporary philosophical debates on experience, presence and recognition shall be connected with debates on the aesthetics of film and cinema, in order to be able to work out and describe more precisely Duras's filmic language as well as her position as a woman filmmaker. In doing so, scientific approaches will be used that have, up to now, often remained isolated: aspects of picture theory, iconic criticism and film aesthetics will be combined with dimensions of postcoloniality, feminist theory and gender theory. Translation in media und culture, cultural difference, sexual difference, alterity and transgression will act as central critical terms of the analysis.
The research approach of the outlined project shall integrate art history including film studies and shall be oriented towards cultural studies. First of all, the discussion will concern the different status of imaginary, textually produced and filmic pictures, remembered images and their aesthetic capacity as well as the relation between word and image. Beyond that, research will be guided by questions related to cultural studies , whenever it is focused on Duras's approach to otherness and difference, ethnicity and gender, as well as on her attempt to transgress these structuring categories by means of her specific pictorial language.