Critical Writing Index

The subject in History: The new autobiography in film and video

by Michael Renov

Afterimage, July Summer 1989, v. 17, no. 1, pp. 4-7

This article explores the essayistic in independent film and video art. Renov defines the essay as a writing practice that has both a documentary impulse and a reflex of self-interrogation; it has its roots in Montaigne and is fully realized by Barthes. In film and video art, Renov describes the essayistic impulse as the "new autobiography" - a category that encompasses the diary film, the autobiography and the essay. Looking at work by Jonas Mekas, Ilene Segalove and Lynn Hershman, Renov shows how the autobiographical in film and video art bridges the divide between the categories of documentary and avant-garde. More importantly, the autiobiographical, posits the self as plural or in flux and regards subjectivity and history as mutually defining categories.

ITEM 1989.066 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Lost, Lost, LostJonas Mekas

My PubertyIlene Segalove

The Mom TapesIlene Segalove

I Remember Beverly HillsIlene Segalove

First Person PluralLynn Hershman