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Péter Dobai: Archaikus Torzó

From Imaging Dissent: Towards Becoming a Common Subject

The YouTube page for Archaikus Torzó states: “Archaic Torso, the 1971 documentary directed by Péter Dobai (with cinematography by Lajos Koltai) was produced at the groundbreaking Balazs Bela Studios. This crucial Hungarian incubator for avant-garde cinema and video art managed to elude state censorship for several decades. The film shows an exceptional young man’s self-imposed solitary lifestyle and strict regimen, undertaken to achieve an ideal of physical and intellectual perfection. He is obsessively engaged in this process of renunciation and will power, involving both intense bodybuilding and extensive philosophical readings. The first part of the documentary follows him on his daily physical exercise routine; the second sees him read philosophical texts out loud. Eventually, he breaks down and cries, his system of self-control in apparent meltdown. Read in the context of Hungary in the early 1970s, the film exposes conflicts embedded in processes of subjectification taking place in a socialist society.”[footnote A sequence of film stills from Archaikus Torzó were published in the Summer 2019 issue of F.R. David. This film was brought to our attention by Will Holder, for which we thank him.]

Another interesting example of an experimental film project in the USSR satellite states was the Worker Film Clubs in Poland. Film equipment was distributed among factory workers, who then produced a number of critical films on a array of subjects such as family, childhood, work, gender, and sexuality. These films have recently been archived online by the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and named the Enthusiasts Archive.

January 11, 2020

Curated by

Werker Collective