For almost twenty years Marcel Broodthaers made films that radically differed from the avant-garde cinematograph of the time, resembling neither the various alterations of the European “new wave”, nor American structural films. Throughout the lecture, we will trace the genealogy of Broodthaers’s films, their place in the cinematographic context of the 1950–1970s, and the role they played in his institutional critique project.
Benjamin Buchloh, one of the main connoisseurs of Marcel Broodthaers’s manifold practice, has pointed out that “...Broodthaers identifies his work with those structures of dissemination and distribution that are generally considered mere sub-products—the banal accouterments to the centrality of the work of art as a substantial object.” The distributive aspect is especially important in relation to Broodthaers’s films. For screening them, he usually created circumstances that destroyed their hermetic nature and unveiled their materiality: he could put subtitles over diegetic sound, or project a film onto a text inscribed on the wall beforehand. In spite of a lot of text in his films, they are not in the least “literary”. As a lover of black and white movies, Broodthaers had a profound understanding of cinematograph as a separate medium. His films, however, never existed as independent artworks, but were rather inherent in a multimedia artistic practice focused on institutional critique.