Accepted Paper:

Cinematic constraints and ritual dances   


Smaranda Olcèse-Trifan (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

Convinced that only the awareness and mastery of the possibilities of cinematic medium can give access to human experience being filmed and convey more than a mere indexical knowledge, I use the lessons of filmmakers as different as Jean Rouch and Maya Deren in my field-work on ritual possession dances in West Africa.

Paper long abstract:

Nourished by cinematic propositions of filmmakers as Jean Rouch or Maya Deren, my reflection on moving images concretises in a field-work research lead by the requirements of film-making. I am working on ritual possession dances in West Africa and I privilege a visual approach that doesn't contempt itself with the visual aspect of these rituals high in colours and body postures. My attention interrogates the lived experiences behind this often shocking visibility. A peculiar kind of being in the world that blurs the borderlines between corporeal and mental experiences is questioned. The camera, when not used as merely recording tool, allows to establish a relationship of shared experience on the ritual ground thus transfigured in cinematic space.

I consider the moving body and its ways to inhabit time and space. The dancer's body in the peculiar experience of a danced invitation for Gods to descend. Also filmmaker's camera incorporated body, having access by the very means of her/his camera, to the dancer's experience. But in order for that to happen, in order to translate, in a language addict only to visual phenomena, this corporeal experience opened to other kind of presence, trespassing the limits of visible, several exploratory paths must be followed: 1° the relation between self and shared corporeal experience (sharing will be understood not as contamination but as « being together » in the ritual space by the bias of the camera) ; 2° the inscription of lived experience in the filmic texture - images, sounds, rhythm, cuts, editing.

Panel W086
Transcultural montage: the uses of filmic montage in conveying diversity and mutuality