In conjunction with Against Cinema: Situationist Film and Its Legacy, an exhibition which seeks to retrace the history and legacy of Situationist film, we’ll be showing the movie La dialectique peut-elle casser des briques? (1973) by René Vienet with an introduction by Keith Sanborn at Pro Arts Gallery and COMMONS on Thursday, September 12  at 7 PM. The door opens at 6:30 PM. 

Free and open to all. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER 


About the film

La dialectique peut-elle casser des briques ?, in English, “Can Dialectics Break Bricks?”, is a 1973 Situationist film produced by the French director René Viénet which explores the development of class conflict through revolutionary agitation against a backdrop of graphic kung-fu fighting.

The film uses 1972 martial arts film Crush by Tu Guangqi, which tells the story of anti-colonialist revolt in Korea during the period of Japanese occupation, for its visuals which has been dubbed over by the filmmakers in an attempt at détournement. The concept and motivation of this film was to adapt a “spectacular” film into a radical critique of cultural hegemony and thus into tools of subversive revolutionary ideals.

The Narrative is based upon a conflict between the proletarian and bureaucrats within state capitalism. The proletarians enlist their dialectics and radical subjectivity to fight their oppressors whilst the bureaucrats defend themselves using a combination of co-optation and violence. The film is noted for its humorous approach to this serious subject matter.

The film also contains many praising references to revolutionaries who thought and fought for the realisation of a post-capitalist world, including Marx, Bakunin, and Wilhelm Reich, as well as scathing criticism towards the French Communist Party, trade unionism and Maoism. Also Subplots dealing with issues of gender equality, alienation, Paris Commune, May 1968, and the Situationist themselves are riddled throughout the film.


About Keith Sanborn

Keith Sanborn (1952, USA) is a New York-based theorist and media artist. He has been investigating the field of tension between public image and personal perception with film, photography, video and digital media since the late 1970s. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions and has been included in art biennials and festivals. In more recent years, he has been a regular guest in Rotterdam with his films and installations. Sanborn has also been teaching at Princeton University and The New School in the United States.

His media work has been featured at festivals such as the Rotterdam International Film Festival, The European Media Arts Festival in Osnabrück, Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage, Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin, OVNI in Barcelona, the New York Video Festival, the Migrating Forms Festival, Video Dumbo and Video Vortex . His work has been included in the Whitney Biennial of American Art two times and was included in the Whitney’s “American Century” survey as well as the Pomidou Centre’s survey “Monter/Sampler.” He has had numerous one-person shows at a range of institutions including Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg, FAMU in Prague, The École nationale superieure des beaux arts in Paris, the Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne, Millennium Film Workshop in New York, Chicago Filmmakers, the London Filmmaker’s Coop and the National Film School in Beaconsfield. His work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Department of Cinema Studies of New York University, Bard College, Smolny Insitute in St. Petersburg, the City University of Hong Kong, the Centre de Cultura of Barcelona, SUNY/Buffalo, The Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Sussex.

His theoretical and critical essays have appeared in a range of periodicals from Artforum, A/S, The Brooklyn Rail, and and in collections such as Kunst nach Ground Zero. He has written catalogue essays for the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Cinematheque, the Pompidou Centre, Exit Art and the Pacific Film Archive among others. He has also acted as a curator for Hallwalls Gallery in Buffalo, the Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage, Exit Art, and the Pacific Film Archive. His curatorial and theoretical work has lead him to translate the works of Guy Debord, Gil Wolman, René Viénet, Georges Bataille, Napoleon, Paolo Gioli, Berthold Brecht, Harun Farocki and Esfir Shub. His curatorial, critical and translation work has contributed strongly to the introduction of the work of the Situationist International to the English-speaking world. In 2008, supported by a Fulbright grant, he taught a history of the compilation film at Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg and pursued research in Russian media.

His media work has been supported by the Jerome Foundation, NYSCA, Art Matters, the Experimental Television Center and The Thing.