Changing and Exchanging: Serge Daney mid-stream
Workshop 1 of ‘Serge Daney and queer cinephilia’ project
27-28 September 2018, Institut national de l’histoire de l’art, Paris.
“As a passeur I stayed midstream, waiting for someone from one of the banks to call me or reach out to me, and since that never happened I began to send little messages, both written and oral, sending news from one bank to the other without myself belonging to either of them” (Persévérance, Paris, P.O.L 1994, p.64).
Serge Daney, at the end of his life, revealed himself to be a passeur : a messenger, a go-between, a mediator among creators and spectators. At the same time, he persisted obstinately in trying to distinguish between two notions: “image” and “visual”. If the visual is a “loop”, wrote Daney, “[t]he image always takes place at the border of two force fields, it is meant to bear witness to a certain otherness ; and although it always has a hard core, it always lacks something. The image is always more and less than itself.” More than itself, meaning it is a recording surface, bearing more meanings than those who make and see it imagine; less than itself : needing to be edited with other images, in order to grow and acquire a raison d’être.
Between the “more and less than itself”: shortfall of the self, necessity of otherness. “Serge Daney amid others” will be the theme of this workshop, which will address how the notions of group, community, link, exchange, mediation, intervention, all these modes of relating to the other or others are revealed to be fundamental to and ongoing in Daney’s critical, theoretical and analytic work – and may even constitute the essence of the critical act itself.
International Daney: Queer and Feminist Implications
Workshop 2 of ‘Serge Daney and queer cinephilia’ project
25 January 2019, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz.
Film critic Serge Daney is a legendary figure in the world of French film. He began writing for Cahiers du cinéma in 1964 and was editor-in-chief of the magazine from 1973 until 1981, at which point he became a journalist for Libération. In 1991, Daney left the daily newspaper to found the journal Trafic. He died of complications due to AIDS in 1992. His criticism, collected into numerous French-language books, exerted great influence on filmmakers and theorists, including Jean-Luc Godard and Gilles Deleuze, both of whom have acknowledged his importance to their own work and thought. Outside of France, Daney is primarily known only to francophilic and some queer film enthusiasts. A number of his essays have been translated into English and published online (http://sergedaney.blogspot.com/), but there is only one English-language book, Postcards from the Cinema (2007), a translation of a series of discussions with Serge Toubiana. There are two books in German, Von der Welt ins Bild. Augenzeugenberichte eines Cinephilens (2000), a selection of essays edited by Christa Blümlinger, and a translation of the Toubiana discussions, which is out of print (Im Verborgenen. Kino. Reise. Kritik, 2000).
Openly gay throughout his lifetime but decisively private about his homosexuality, Daney rarely touched on the subject in his articles. Nevertheless, as a prominent gay critic in a predominantly heterosexual male film culture, he remains of almost singular importance for international francophilic, queer cinephiles. This primarily has biographical reasons. But is there more to Daney's queerness than a mere erotic interest in boys and men? Can a queer perspective elucidate aspects of his work that have hitherto remained obscured? How does a queer Daney circulate and what does this circulation make possible both for thinking about Daney and for thinking more broadly about film criticism and programming? Daney referred to himself as a cinéfils – a play on words linking cinephilia with kinship to produce a "son of cinema." But where are the daughters? What about the cinéfilles? Can a "queer Daney" open up a critical space for a feminist cinephilia as well? This one day workshop will bring together critics, scholars and curators to discuss the queer and feminist implications of Daney's work.