January 22 – 23, 2005 | UnionDocs & OfficeOps Brooklyn

A screening of Resisting Paradise, the most recent film by prolific avant-garde filmmaker and documentarian Barbara Hammer, was the culminating event in a series of politically-motivated presentations in conjunction with the arts and activism conference And So Forth: A Post-Inaugural Assembly (sponsored by Amnesty International Firefly Project, Theaters Against War, Art Is Permitted Everywhere, and FELT).

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In addition to the screening, UnionDocs showed a selection of films from the Witness Archive, shared thoughts with conference attendees on ‘Creating an Open Space for Collaboration,’ and members Christopher Allen and Jesse Shapins moderated the panel ‘Documenting: Ethical and Aesthetic Considerations’ with Barbara Hammer, filmmaker Danny Schechter and Witness Archive outreach coordinator Matisse Bustos.

Resisting Paradise emerged from Hammer’s experiences while an artist-in-residence at the Camargo Foundation in the small fishing village of Cassis in southern France. Following in the footsteps of Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, Hammer, herself a former painter, was seeking to capture the splendor of the Mediterranean landscape. During her residency, however, the war in Kosovo erupted, and Hammer found it “impossible to continue [her] modernist pursuit of beauty without ideology or critical observation.”

Recasting her original idea for the project, the filmmaker immersed her poetic investigations within a political context, posing the question: “Can art exist during a time of political crisis and war?” The result is a 90-minute experimental documentary that juxtaposes the experiences of painters Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard during World War II with those of several Resistance fighters living at the same time, in the same place.