Boundary crossings and inter-subjective imaginings
Sarah Turner’s Perestroika
in British art cinema
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This chapter uses Sarah Turner’s Perestroika (2009) as a springboard for exploring the contemporary intersections of ‘art cinema’ and ‘artist’s film’ in the British context. Part essay film, part psychogeography, Turner’s experimental narrative blurs the boundary between documentary and fiction, turning a train journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway into a philosophical reflection on the relationship between interior and exterior reality. I argue that Perestroika opens a space for reflecting on contemporary viewing contexts. In his review in the Guardian newspaper, Peter Bradshaw stated that ‘it is the kind of film that is arguably better viewed on the wall of an art gallery’, while also acknowledging that the film’s raw affective power derives from the cinema setting. In its association of content to context, Bradshaw’s comment raises broader questions related to the ‘art cinema’/‘artist’s cinema’ dichotomy. What is this ‘kind of film’ that seems awkwardly positioned between two institutions – the cinema and the gallery? How does the hybrid aesthetic approach in Perestroika force us to evaluate viewing contexts in relation to the different traditions it encompasses? In analysing these questions, the chapter draws on notions of immersive experience and haptic vision (Marks, 2002) that locate the film between narrative and abstraction.

British art cinema

Creativity, experimentation and innovation

Editors: Paul Newland and Brain Hoyle


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