Documenting the domestic

Chantal Akerman's experimental autobiography as archive

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Chantal Akerman’s films provide meticulous observations of the everyday, depicting in obsessive detail the activities that weave across daily life. Experimental and often on the border of fiction and non-fiction, Akerman’s films have created a rich archive, both personal and collective, of domestic life. Many of Akerman’s films have a range of autobiographical registers. In this article, I position the experimental autobiographical film as archive. Drawing on feminist critiques which challenge the distinction between autobiography and archive and which shift assumptions about what constitutes an archive, I examine the autobiographical tendencies of Akerman across several of her films. In particular, I discuss Saute ma ville, Jeanne Dielman 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, News From Home and No Home Movie. These four films variously document domestic spaces, everyday habits, personal memory and family relationships. I argue that Akerman’s films can be read together as a dynamic archive of gestures, habits and repetitions of domestic life. Positioning Akerman’s experimental autobiography as archive contributes to the work of feminist scholars of history who continue to challenge what an archive is, and question what ‘counts’ as evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-170
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
Volume32
Issue number91-92
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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