« Medium Intimacy: The Correspondences of Chris Marker and Aleksandr Medvedkin »

Medvedkin before a train in Chris Marker’s Le Train en marche (1971)

About one of his photographic portraits Chris Marker wrote: “the speed of the shutter stopped the rarest moment, a moment of certainty.” One of Marker’s photographic portraits captures the certainty of filmmaker Aleksandr Medvedkin (1900-1989), a loyal communist combatant from the beginning almost to the very end of the Soviet regime, whom Marker befriended in 1967. But which moment of certainty does Medvedkin’s portrait record? Is it the moment of early Stalinism, when Medvedkin made prosecutorial documentaries and satires from his Film Train? Or that of the Cold War, in which Medvedkin closely hewed to the official line in film-pamphlets decrying capitalist imperialism and Maoism and extolling the wisdom of Leonid Brezhnev? Is it Medvedkin’s certainty during Prague Spring, which divided the two friends almost as soon as they had met? Or could it be that Medvedkin called into question for Marker the very possibility of certainty, of recognizing certainty in the other, or of sharing certainty with another, that is to say, the possibility of socialism? In answering these questions I focus on Marker’s two films about Medvedkin, Le train en marche (1971) and Le tombeau d’Alexandre (1993), and draw on the two men’s correspondence, which has been preserved in the Cinema Museum in Moscow.


  • Robert Bird (University of Chicago)

Professor in the Departments of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Cinema and Media Studies at The University of Chicago his primary area of interest is the aesthetic practice and theory of Russian/Soviet modernism. He has published books on Viacheslav Ivanov, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Andrei Tarkovsky, and essays on a variety of topics in Russian literature, intellectual history, film and video art. Most recently he was co-editor (with Christina Kiaer and Zachary Cahill) of Revolution Every Day: A Calendar (Mousse Publishing, 2017), the catalogue to the exhibition Revolution Every Day at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. He is currently completing a book ‘Soul Machine: How Soviet Film Modeled Socialism,’ which analyzes the rise of socialist realism as a modeling aesthetic.


Informations pratiques

25 avril 2018 - 18H-20H
Galerie Colbert, salle Benjamin (rez-de-chaussée)
Institut national d’histoire de l’art
2, rue Vivienne ou 6 rue des Petits Champs
75002 Paris

entrée libre

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