Stedelijk UNIVERSITY #3. The Poetics and Politics of the Obsolete: Tacita Dean and the Materiality of Celluloid
13 Nov 2016

Teijin Auditorium
2 - 5 pm
Ticket regular €10 / student €7,50

Ticket regular Ticket student

Stedelijk UNIVERSITY annually offers a short lecture series on the Sunday afternoon on current topics in contemporary art theory and the museum world. This first edition is provided by Professor Thomas Elsaesser (Emeritus Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and since 2013 related to, among others, Columbia University, New York).

During the series The Moving Image in the Museum: The Cinema Experience Relocated, Elsaesser will investigate the way in which contemporary art is increasingly making use of film, video and the history of cinema. The five sessions are highlights of a series of lectures which Elsaesser gave earlier this year at Columbia University.

This third lecture, to be held on Sunday November 13, is titled The Poetics and Politics of the Obsolete: Tacita Dean and the Materiality of Celluloid. 


Oct 16 2016        Opening lecture: Cinema and Museum: Rivals or Partners?
Oct 30 2016        Between Suspense and Labyrinth: Alfred Hitchcock in 
                                the Museum
Nov 13 2016       The Poetics and Politics of the Obsolete: Tacita Dean and  
                                the Materiality of Celluloid 
Nov 20 2016       Projection & Transparency - the return of the
                               Phantasmagoric: Johan Grimonprez’ Dark Ages
Dec 11 2016       Closing lecture: Attention, Distraction & Distribution of the senses


During the past three decades, cinema has redefined itself in several ways: as a post-photographic medium, as global entertainment, and as a still significant public sphere. But it has also entered the museums, galleries and art spaces as a major attraction, a space of self-reflection and a means of activist intervention. Classic directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Luc Godard are granted museum retrospectives, along with major exhibitions featuring contemporary filmmakers (Abbas Kiarostami, Chantal Akerman, Harun Farocki, Agnes Varda, Johan Grimonprez). Often, these exhibitions highlight fundamental incompatibilities and exposing inherent contradictions of  encounters between contemporary art and cinema.

The migration of moving images (and sounds) into the museum may signal that the cinema has finally come to be recognized as the art form of the 20th century. Consequently, cinema has earned the right to enter into the traditional institutions of patronage, artistic heritage and cultural patrimony. But the move may also constitute a kind of ‘takeover bid’ and confirm the much-heralded ‘death’ of cinema, predicated on making the cinema ready for archival preservation and embalmed obsolescence.

The course will ask how complementary, contradictory or productively challenging are the ‘black box’ and the ‘white cube’ in such a new arrangement of space, duration and spectatorship? Besides case-studies, general topics will include: projection, appropriation, obsolescence, the archive, found footage, documentary and the essay film.


Thomas Elsaesser is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Media and Culture of the University of Amsterdam. From 2006 to 2012 he was Visiting Professor at Yale and since 2013 he is Visiting Professor at Columbia University. Elsaesser was one of the founding members of ASCA, the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, and he is General Editor of ‘Film Culture in Transition’ for Amsterdam University Press, a book series this year publishing its 50th volume. Elsaesser has received numerous awards and distinctions, including Fellow of the British Academy and Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion. Among his recent books as author are German Cinema - Terror and Trauma: Cultural Memory Since 1945 (New York: Routledge, 2013), Film Theory – An Introduction through the Senses (with Malte Hagener, 2nd revised edition, New York: Routledge, 2015), and Film History as Media Archaeology (Amsterdam University Press, 2016).  He is currently completing a book on European Cinema and Continental Thought (London: Bloomsbury, 2017). More information, as well as essays for downloading can be found at