ISSN: 2241-6692

Inventing a People: Laboratory Athens and Minor Cinema

Ulrich Meurer


Modern political cinema, claims Gilles Deleuze, can no longer presuppose the existence of a “people” or give utterance to its struggle, but has to invent that people through the fabrication of peripheral, collective, or “minor” images. Laboratory Athens/LabA, a non-commercial initiative for the production of small gauge films, founded 2008 in Athens by the curators and filmmakers Vassily Bourikas & Yannis Yaxas, might be considered as the site of such an invention: its workshops, screenings and gatherings of filmmakers constitute not only an alternative practice outside major film industries; they also act on a dominant socio-political discourse that generated Greek and European austerity policies. At the same time, however, LabA’s political impact seems attenuated by some of its own traits (a certain withdrawnness of its ephemeral events, or the ‘nostalgic’ aura of Super 8 or 16mm footage). Thus, with a view to several formative activities and outstanding short films of LabA, the paper locates its ‘image politics’ in the interstice or field of tension between the transfer of technical knowledge and latent aesthetics of experimental cinema, the creation of collectives and sense of esoterism, the involvement in topical issues of (Greek) society and use of obsolete or ‘retro’ media.

Keywords: austerity policy, film activism, LabA, minor cinema, retro aesthetics, small gauge film