Nicole Brenez (Université de Paris 3/Sorbonne Nouvelle)
An Archeology of the Figure and the Figural in Cinema after Kracauer
In English, the adjective “figural” is a synonym of “figurative.” In France, the notion of “figural” was introduced in the vocabulary of aesthetics by Jean-François Lyotard and then reworked by Gilles Deleuze as a process of rupture and reconfiguration of the codes of representation. Among the precursors of such a principle, Siegfried Kracauer was one of the most precise and innovative. We will trace the archeology of the figural, comparing texts about cinema by Kracauer, Rudolf Arnheim, Béla Balázs, Antonin Artaud, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, Jean Epstein, up to and including those of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Paul Sharits and contemporary filmmakers. This is not the history of a concept, but of the ways of defining cinema as a revolutionary force in the field of mimesis.
Nicole Brenez is a professor of cinema studies at the University of Paris 3/ Sorbonne Nouvelle. Her publications include De la figure en général et du corps en particulier. L’invention figurative au cinéma (1998), Jeune, dure et pure. Une histoire du cinéma d’avant-garde et expérimental en France (2001) and Le cinéma critique (2009). Brenez has been curator of the Cinémathèque française’s avant-garde film sessions since 1996 and was the recipient of New York’s Anthology Film Archives’ Film Preservation Award in 2000. She has curated many film series worldwide.