Veracruz/Virginia | Performance Maria Thereza Alves and Jimmie Durham, 1992 | courtesy Museo de Monterrey
This third edition of Berlin Documentary Forum investigates the inherent tensions and paradoxes involved in the production of narratives and the role such narratives play in the fabrication of social reality and the shaping of lived experience. It proposes that storytelling be understood not simply as reflecting reality, but rather as one of the primary ways in which reality itself is constructed.
The immense interest in narrative as a domain of inquiry stems from the manifold cultural functions it fulfills: it can preserve tradition, create national identities, consolidate social hierarchy, establish truth and authenticity, and both curb and enrich collective and individual imagination. Narrative may be put to the service of reconfirming hegemonic formations, but so too can it challenge the status quo by allowing for alternative constructions of memory and history to be imagined.
In order to explore these concerns, the projects included in Berlin Documentary Forum 3 employ a promiscuous mixture of approaches, including the essayistic, biographical, cinematic, dialogic, and journalistic. Across these heterogeneous techniques, montage - understood in its broadest sense - emerges as a strategy for the creation of narratives that serve to preserve, rather than sublate, the difference and specificity of their worldly subjects.
If, as Jacques Rancière argues, the real must be fictionalized in order to be thought, then the contributions to Berlin Documentary Forum 3 demonstrate the extent to which this process is a rich site of artistic creation and critical inquiry.
Berlin Documentary Forum is a biennial program for the production and presentation of contemporary and historical documentary practices in an interdisciplinary context. Rather than taking for granted how one might define “documentary,” this four-day program critically engages with an expanded field of practices that span the domains of film, photography, contemporary art, performance, architecture, cultural history, and theory. Throughout the HKW building, one will find exhibitions, screenings, performances, readings, and discussions that have been developed and realized by a group of international artists, filmmakers, historians, and theoreticians. Projects diverse in subject and form will stage a series of charged encounters between narrators and publics, all at the meeting point of the discursive and the real.