Review: Second Time Around
by Fabien Lemercier
- Spanish director Dora Garcia creates an exciting conceptual documentary open to interpretation amidst the backdrop of the Argentinian dictatorship
"It's no longer just a name, it becomes a world, we start associating it with voices, bodies, ideas..." Bridging the gap between the observed and the observers, creating a reflective flow around perception and existing or missing information, based on differentiated repetition and highlighting both the cruel history of the twentieth century and the potential to short-circuit the totalitarianism of communication with avant-garde artistic acts: these are just some of the routes explored in the exciting Second Time Around by Dora Garcia, screened in international competition at the 29th FIDMarseille (from 10 to 16 July).
But don’t be put off by the idea that this "documentary" by the Spanish, well-known contemporary art figure (she represented Spain at the Venice Biennale 2011) and known explorer of numerous forms of expression (including films such as The Deviant Majority and The Joycean Society) is a complex film reserved for intellectuals fond of concepts, performances, Lacanian psychoanalysis, philosophy and history. Because even if the film is all that, the simplicity of its presentation and the finesse of its narrative structure allow it to extend to several levels of understanding and to open up to its audience without closing itself off from a wide field of interpretation.
Relying on the filmed re-enactment of two ‘happenings’ (Para inducir el espíritu de la imagen and El helicóptero) and the anti-happening (El mensaje fantasma) conceived in 1966 and 1967 by the Argentinian Oscar Masotta before the military coup d'état pushed him into exile in Spain, Second Time Around by Julio Cortázar, The Museum of Eterna’s Novel by Macedonio Fernández and the Calling by the American Allan Kaprow, Dora Garcia weaves an intricately connected narrative.
The film opens with a striking event in which 19 poor elderly individuals are lined up against a wall and spend an hour standing under an intense white light, immersed in electronic sound. The film continues with a series of archived photographs (in red) detailing the repression orchestrated by the Argentinian army in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The narrative thread then switches to Belgium and historical conversations (about Peronism) and questions (about the film being made) at the University of Louvain's library, before heading to an event on a cliff near San Sebastian where two groups meet to exchange information about the same event, about which they only had a fragmentary understanding. The film ends in Buenos Aires with a fascinating sequence of discussions that fill the uneasy waiting period caused by unexplained police summons, followed by an interrogation in which threat and oppression co-exist in all their banality. The film features numerous episodes in which a reflexive phenomenon intervenes, and in which the protagonists become both observers and the observed, in a repetitive loop that aims to open a door to free thought by becoming aware of the shackles of totalitarianism in all its forms.
A very-well polished film on background and form, as instructive as it is non-intrusive, Second Time Around was produced by the Belgian company Auguste Orts with the support of several Norwegian institutions.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.