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Conference CFP: “New Approaches to Stan Brakhage”

Submission deadline: December 21, 2014.

Brakhage conference Birkbeck 2015 : New Approaches to Stan Brakhage

Details Below:


New Approaches to Stan Brakhage Saturday 7 March 2015, 9am-6pm Event type: Conference Venue: Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London


This one day conference aims to explore new approaches to the work of experimental film-maker Stan Brakhage. His figure has been mainly assessed within the history of experimental film-making as that of the visionary individualist. This is the case with both enthusiasts and detractors, since his individualism remains the main focus of attention by both categories.  The multidisciplinary influences declared by the film-maker, among which the most relevant are music, poetry, and painting, do little to facilitate a unique and organic take on his oeuvre. On the contrary, they open up a wide range of points of access to his work.  The often scattered critical attention given to Brakhage throughout the years, in addition to the few major attempts, have confirmed how slippery his art is when efforts are made to summarise it as a whole. The apparent impossibility of finding common critical terms to define the whole of his achievements, without giving way to predetermined positions, demonstrates how a different paradigm is necessary to face the task.  This conference will gather different voices each adopting a singular and specific perspective on his films, his figure, a particular phase of his career, his aesthetics, and so on. Together they will give a prismatic image of this artist, confirming Fred Camper’s intuition that “for almost any generalizing statement one might make about a major Brakhage film, some form of its opposite is also true.” This ‘rule’, which extends beyond Brakhage’s major films, does not diminish the value of Brakhage’s artistic career, but on the contrary it enriches it to the point of being multifaceted. In fact Brakhage himself treasured the openness of his films as a necessary quality for the work of art, as well as theoretically sustaining his efforts with John Keats’ negative capability.  Subjects might include but are not limited to:  – The diverse nature of his copious filmography and its critical assessment  – The presence and resonance of social determinants within his work  – Materialism and Brakhage  – The influence of Abstract Expressionism, music, and/or poetry on Brakhage’s aesthetics  – The productive or unproductive value of individualism and identification in Brakhage’s films  – Unexplored connections between Brakhage’s life and his work  – Pastoral and environmental themes in his films  – Perceptual freedom and counter-cultural thought  – Psychedelia and Brakhage’s imagery  – Brakhage and politics  – Questions of Philosophy in Brakhage’s films  Invited speakers: TBA  The conference will be structured as a series of four panels with three papers, of approximately 20 minutes each plus 10 minutes for questions, and the screening of a short Brakhage’s film at the end of each panel.  The conference is organised in collaboration with the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI). Booking details to follow.  Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words, with a brief CV, to  The deadline for submission is the 21st of December 2014.

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