Anabases 6: Footnotes in a struggle about struggle

There are a total of 40 footnotes in Anabases, all of which are found in Homay King’s essay “Anti-Odyssey”. The majority of these footnotes lead us to theoretical texts of Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Freud, Bergson, Barthes, Derrida, Deleuze, Agamden and Badiou. Several others take us to works by artists Jeff Wall, Hito Steyerl and Walead Beshty. A few footnotes direct us to Xenophon’s Anabasis, whether directly or via an intermediary (e.g Badiou’s The Century). The very first footnote runs as follows:

Italo Calvino, writing in 1978, suggests that reading Xenophon’s Anabasis “is the nearest thing to watching an old war documentary.” Italo Calvino, Why Read the Classics? (New York: Pantheon, 1999) p.19.

Of the couple of footnotes that send us in search of the works of Eric Baudelaire, the longest refers to his film The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years without Images (2011) – the topic of the artist’s second chronology (The Anabasis of Masao Adachi May & Fusako Shigenobu: A Chronology), the essay by Jean-Pierre Rehm (“Here is Nowhere”) and the series of installation views that comprise Album II. Here is how the footnote describes the film, tying it to King’s discussion of Antonioni and Baudelaire’s The Makes:

[the film] has an image-track that consists primarily of landscapes filmed in Tokyo and Beirut with a mobile Super 8 camera. While expressly indebted to Masao Adachi’s theory of fukeiron, a practice of filming space to reveal the structures of power embedded therein, these images also recall the less hierarchical way that Antonioni’s camera responds to and moves across the surfaces of architectural elements and land forms.

In an exhibition of Eric Baudelaire’s work that is currently on show in Berlin (The Music of Ramón Raquello and his Orchestra), in addition to screening the whole of The Anabasis…, there is also a room devoted to works associated with the film. Here is the floorplan with the key to each of these additional works:

(7) A 15 min excerpt of Masao Adachi’s seminal 1969 film A.K.A. Serial Killer (referenced by Baudelaire in both The Anabasis and Also Known as Jihadi).
(8) A series of black on black silkscreen prints titled Pictures of Documents.
(9) A work titled Fusako Shigenobu Family Album, featuring pictures of the founder of the Japanese Red Army up until her disappearance underground.
(10) A slide presentation of drawings made by Masao Adachi during his incarceration in Beirut.
(11) A 16 page printed libretto.

These works share the space with a later work by Baudelaire called FRAEMWROK FRMAWREOK FAMREWROK … and here is the description:

Linking back to his background as a political scientist, this wallpaper piece gathers Baudelaire’s collection of 413 figures and tables sampled from 109 academic journal articles dealing with the phenomenon of terrorism. Created by sociologists, economists, game theorists, political scientists and psychologists, the graphics attempt, in various manners,to explain, contain, represent or delineate a phenomenon which is ongoing, inherently elusive, endlessly complex and remarkably resistant to rationalization or explanation.

Now, in a recent review of Baudelaire’s exhibition, when it was shown at Witte de With in Rotterdam, Jens Maier-Rothe singles out this room for criticism as failing in two differing ways:

In a similar vein, the exhibition wants to distil a shared condition for a decade of artistic work. Scattered across the space, without walls or curtains, the individual works are in conversation at all times, and two windows provide a view to the urban landscape outside. In some cases this fails to succeed, and certain objects seem somewhat lost in the space. For instance, a short section from “A.K.A. Serial Killer” (1969) seems shrunk to a footnote on a monitor on the floor, while an expansive wallpaper featuring 413 charts and graphs on the theme of terrorism (“FRAEMWROK FRMAWREOK FAMREWROK …”, 2016) oddly renders Baudelaire’s deep tie to the social and political sciences into décor.

I was especially struck by this description of Adachi’s 1969 film as a footnote on account of one of the most compelling moments in The Anabasis… Adachi is describing how over 200 hours of footage of Palestinian guerilla fighters had been destroyed in the bombing of Beirut in 1982, and how all that remains are his own memories, including the training and education of a young Palestinian militant and another of the tragic death of a Palestinian cameraman during filming. Yet shifting from this somber note, Adachi describes the humorous story of how, before it was lost forever, other members of the Japanese Red Army living in Beirut had watched some of it and they told him that he only filmed strange things. “We get it!”, they said to him, laughing, “You’ll end your film with a close-up of a foot and declare “This is cinema!”. Given the role that Eric Baudelaire plays in re-shooting Adachi’s films and even shooting in modern day Beirut footage according to Adachi’s shot-list, I was expecting the final shot of Baudelaire’s film to be of a foot! So, the description of Adachi’s film in Baudelaire’s exhibition as ‘shrunk to a footnote’ is a fitting tribute! Furthermore, the connection between the Anabasis theme, the foot and cinema cannot be lost on this Classicist:

I am a cinematographer
I am a cinematographer
I am a cinematographer
I am a cinematographer
And I walked away from New York City
And I walked away from everything that’s good
And I walked away from everything I leaned on
Only to find it’s made of wood

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