Kunsthalle Basel presents: “News from Home” (1977) by Chantal Akerman

Length: 85’
In French with English subtitles

Location: STADTKINO Basel (Klostergasse 5)
Admission: 12.-/For members of the Basler Kunstverein 6.-
Afterwards Bar

The artist Moyra Davey, whose exhibition Speaker Receiver is on view until September 12 at Kunsthalle Basel, has selected the film News from Home by Chantal Akerman.

I love Akerman’s “News From Home” for its depiction of New York City in the 70s, for Babette Mangolte’s camera that never moves, for its amazing, extended shots on a subway car and from the Staten Island Ferry. I’m not sure when I first saw “News From Home”, but I know I watched it in 2005 for a class I taught in Geneva called “Walking in the City”. I borrowed the title from an essay by Michel de Certeau that begins with an image of New York City seen from the top of the World Trade Center. One could say that both film and essay are about the enabling, and, in Certeau’s words “surreptitious creativities” of the city. My take on the film is that Akerman is distancing herself from her mother and home, and embracing Manhattan as a kind of surrogate maternal space, a site of creative sustenance and freedom.

Moyra Davey

Chantal Akerman was born in Brussels (B) in 1950 and lives in Paris. In 1967, she quit her study at the Belgian film school after a few months only. In 1968, she studied drama in Paris and appeared before the public with short and experimental films. In the beginning, concerning visual language and technique, she dissociated herself radically from the conventional entertaining narrative cinema. Her films normally deal with the role of women. For example in Jeanne Dielman (1975), one of her best-known films which shows three days in the life of a forty-year old woman who works occasionally as a prostitute. With the use of strong images, the film describes minutely the ritualized cycle of those days, the perfectly organized and regulated life which runs formalized and unemotional.
Akerman has produced over 40 works including Saute ma ville (1968); Je, tu, il, elle (1974); Les Années 80 (1983); Portrait d’une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles (1994); Un divan à New York (1995); Sud (1999) and La Captive (2000).
Her works were shown, among others, at the Venice Biennial (2010) and at the Documenta 11 in Kassel (2002).