Doubles for Everyone: Transit Characters As Tactics for Involving the Public in Dutch Documentaries Since the 1960s.

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Anna SCHOBER, Alpen Adria University Klagenfurt, Austria
This paper investigates the appearance of transit characters such as tramps, taxi drivers or urban passers-by in documentaries produced by Dutch filmmakers since the 1960s. It analyses these figures in their function for the public as kinds of doppelgangers, to re-direct affect and attention and to stimulate interest in and reflection about social and geographical milieus far from everyday reality for most viewers.

The paper locates these “everybody” figures in a genealogy and historical iconology of visual figurations addressing and involving the audience and constituting public authority that takes account of the longue durée of such visual figurations as well as of the specific transformation and forms of appearance of these figures that has emerged in postmodern, globalised societies since the 1960s. In doing so, it focuses in particular on the role these figures assume in constituting authenticity and in convincing and in persuading the spectator and in popularising visual research and social and anthropological knowledge as well as political positions. It identifies the particularity of the Dutch documentary tradition in this respect, but also shows that these films and the “faceifeit” (visagéfeit) images they present are part of transformations happening on a transnational and increasingly globalised scale. In addition, the transmedia transitions of such everybody figures – for example between film and photography or film and the internet – are also an issue. These questions will be approached by combining a genealogical discourse-analysis methodology with iconological visual-studies and film-studies methodologies. Finally, the “everybodies” appearing in Dutch documentaries since the 1960s are investigated as figurations stirring the public, political imagination and providing an experimental site for the interlacing of similarities and singularities in respect to contemporary practices of lived democracy.