Workshop & Film Screening Moses und Aron + Workshop: ‘On the Aesthetics of Equal Distribution’

Moses und Aron © BELVA Film

Sat, 01.06.2019


Goethe-Institut London

This season closing event will combine a screening and a workshop to focus on Straub and Huillet's film Moses and Aaron. Basel-based media theorist Ute Holl will discuss the film in relation  to Arnold Schoenberg's twelve tone composition, Sigmund Freud's study of the figure of Moses, and with regard to issues such as migration, exile,  violence, law, media and nature addressed in the filmmakers' work.

2.30pm: Screening of Moses und Aron (Moses and Aaron, 105 mins)

4.30pm: Workshop 'On the Aesthetics of Equal Distribution' with Ute Holl
1. On Equal Distribution in Aesthetic Matters
Straub and Huillet’s filmic adaptation of Schoenberg’s twelve tone composition  - musical structures, equal distribution of tones and the political concept of Nomadism.
2. The Work Journal: Danièle Huillet's Ecological Historiography
Excerpts from Huillet’s journal and her research into the historical background of the films as a specific form of historiography. / Issues of landscapes, nature, the desert, and animals in the films of Straub and Huillet.
3. Moses, a figure of Exodus and Exile, from Freud to Straub-Huilllet 
The figure of Moses in the relation to media, law and violence. / Freud’s study Moses and Monotheism, a study of historiography and violence, finished in London, published in 1939.
Ute Holl is Professor of Media Aesthetics at Basel University. In her book The Moses-Complex. Freud, Schoenberg, Straub/Huillet, Zürich (2016)  (German edition: Der Moses-Komplex : Politik der Töne, Politik der Bilder, Zürich 2014) she analyises how the figure of Moses has become a subject of psychoanalysis and, in the arts, of Schoenberg twelve tone music and Straub and Huillet’s cinema, detailing the historical contexts of these approaches and synthesizing them to explore the relationships among media, migration, and politics.

Ute Holl's  general areas of research are the history of cinema and perception, the epistemology of audio visual media, media history of electro acoustics and cinema sounds, as well as experimental and ethnographc film. Her most recent books are Cinema, Trance and Cybernetics  (2017); Gespenster des Wissens. (Co-ed with Claus Pias, Buckhard Wolf, 2017).

About the film:

Moses und Aron (Moses and Aaron) is an opera composed by Schoenberg to his own libretto between 1930 and 1932. The third act remained unfinished. The libretto tells the story of the calling of Moses, who lacked the gift of oratory, to lead his enslaved people to the Promised Land, his conflict with his brother, Aron, and the people’s descent into idolatry and ritual sacrifice. The film offers a political reading of Schoenberg’s work, focusing on the confrontation between Moses, Aaron and the choir, who, according to Straub, represent the people. The film makes visible the histories of colonialism, migration and exile, putting the emphasis on the struggle of the people against oppression and on the conflict between word and image (‘Thus I too have fashioned an image, false, as an image must invariably be.’). The opera was filmed live and in direct sound, with pre-recorded orchestral music, in the outdoor setting of the Alba Fucens amphitheatre in southern Italy. The film is dedicated to filmmaker and political activist Holger Meins.

Moses und Aron, Moses and Aaron, Dirs: Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet,  Austria/Italy/West Germany/France,1975, 35mm (two shots in 16mm)/DCP, colour, 105 min., in German with English subtitls.

With the kind of support of BIRMAC (Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture).

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Presented as part of The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet