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Around Spectres, an encounter with Sven Augustijnen

In a Seminar on 29 November, art historian Sophie Berrebi will talk to artist Sven Augustijnen, focussing on the use of historical documents in his documentary film Spectres. 

About the Seminar

Sven Augustijnen’s film Spectres (2011) follows a historical witness recounting his quest for the truth about the assassination of Congo independence leader Patrice Lumumba on 17 January 1961. The film presents what Paul Ricoeur calls the ‘inextricable opacity of a personal history’ in the form of a character obsessed with uncovering a historical truth and with the self-justification of his enterprise. It also proposes a provocative reflection on mourning, political cynicism, documentary cinema, and the uses and abuses of historical documents.

This film is the subject of a chapter of my book-in-progress, The Document Reversed, and for this seminar, I would like to invite NIAS fellows to meet the film’s author, artist Sven Augustijnen (Belgium, 1970). I will begin the seminar by discussing with the artist his use of historical documents and his interest in performance, after which I warmly invite you to participate with questions and comments on his film.

About the Speakers

Sophie Berrebi is Assistent Professor of History and Theory of Photography at the University of Amsterdam and Fellow at NIAS.
Sven Augustijnen studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the Hoger Sint-Lukas Instituut in Brussels, and at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. His work concentrates mainly on the tradition of portraiture and the porous boundaries between fiction and reality, using a hybrid of genres and techniques to disorienting effect.