Balancing Between the Institutional and Alternative: Strategies for Collectively Performing Cinema across the Geographic and Ideological Borders of the Cold War

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Event Series: 
Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 5:00pm-6:00pm 
223 Moses Hall
Megan Hoetger, UC Berkeley Performance Studies

At a time when non-, anti-, and counter-cinema practices faced heavy state censorship with little in the way of art institutional or film industrial support, filmmakers and artists forged new ways of circulating their work at local levels, as well as across national borders. Looking to the Viennese context as a case study, this talk examines the entangled development of two forms of artist meetings, which developed in the postwar moment in response to this situation: the institutional and the alternative. In institutional meetings that began to emerge in the mid-1960s, filmmakers and artists nominally adopted and adapted the languages and infrastructures of institutions, taking on either (and, in some cases, both) commercial market or education models in order to gain visibility in cultural space. In the alternative meeting formats that appeared toward the end of the 1960s, conversely, numerous filmmakers and artists cast off such aspirations for institutional visibility, demanding, instead, the establishment of new kinds of markets that did not reproduce the economic and cultural ideologies of the West’s postwar capitalist, liberal democratic order, nor did they turn to notions of collectivity circulating in the socialist East. Returning to these histories and to thinking about the kinds of economies that made space for the distribution and exhibition of such materials and events seems an urgent matter today, as we work once again to imagine methods for internationally connecting non-, anti-, and counter-cultural practices, including cinema, outside of the rhetorics of global connectivity and neoliberal flexibility. 

Megan Hoetger is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with Designated Emphases in Critical Theory and Film. Currently, she is a Visiting Researcher in the Centre for Cinema and Media Studies at Universiteit Gent, Belgium. Her research tracks the establishment of transnational underground networks for the distribution and exhibition of time-based media material, including film and performance, in the Cold War period.