Art History: Sartrean Nothingness and the Aposiopetic Film as Existential Philosophy: “He is not here” – watching a film and looking for Pierre at the café
Sartrean Nothingness and the Aposiopetic Film as Existential Philosophy:
“He is not here” – watching a film and looking for Pierre at the café
Presenter: Kaitlin Lake
Abstract: In 1960, Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura had its premiere at that year’s Cannes Film Festival, enraging the audience when it failed to answer the very question it had posed: where was the missing Anna, who vanishes only 25 minutes into the film? Despite this, the jury lauded the film “for its search for a new cinematic language.” Since its premiere, descriptions of L’Avventura have turned to traditionally linguistic terminologies, and this paper builds on this by calling forth the rhetorical device of the aposiopesis in analysing a host of films that, like L’Avventura, reject the natural compulsion to resolve. A film’s sudden silence invites a line of philosophical inquiry engaged with the idea of nothingness. This paper concentrates on films where a missing character’s fate is unresolved and likens the search for this character to Sartre’s anecdote of Pierre at the café. Aposiopetic films illuminate Sartre’s concepts of freedom and anguish through their (absent) subjects and the spectator’s own interaction with the film’s (un)ending.
Kaitlin Lake is a second-year PhD candidate currently writing a thesis titled “Cinematic Aposiopesis: The Affect of Indeterminacy and Unresolved Endings in Films About Missing Persons.” As well as narrative theory and philosophy/phenomenology in film, Kaitlin is interested in the intersection of cinema and literature; her piece on the affective reciprocity of Walt Whitman and Terrence Malick was published in August 2021 in the inaugural issue of Boston University’s graduate student journal Ampersand: an American Studies Journal.
This event will be held online via Zoom.
Art History Seminar Programme going forward:
14 October – Louise Marshall, “Coping with the Black Death: Giovanni Del Biondo’s St Sebastian Altarpiece for Florence Cathedral”
21 October – Yvette Hamilton, “Looking through a black hole: Photography at the limits.” & Nina Stromqvist,“Marja Helander, Christian Bumbarra Thompson and the ‘border’ in contemporary art from Scandinavia and Australia.”
4 November – Peter McNeil, “Fashion beyond clothing: the visual culture of Eurasian porcelain, glass and painted mirrors, 1500-1800”
11 November – Bruce Isaacs, “Literary and Cinematic Archi-Textualities: Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue”