The subject of the festival poster is a natural landscape. This fascinating and suggestive image makes us long for the re-opening of our geographical and spiritual borders in a time that has disrupted our habits and what we thought was safe. It’s inspired by an illustration from the late 19th century that served didactic purposes and was intended to both describe the world and make it known. Its depiction is therefore based on observation and imagination at the same time. Obviously, “the map is not the territory” – to quote the Polish-American scholar Alfred Korzybski – but precisely for this reason it’s an instrument of expansion, being both reproduction and projection. In it lies its affinity with the cinematographic dispositif that interprets our epoch through the subjectivity of its authors and multiplies these interpretations in the sensibility and experience of the viewers.
A still from Guillaume Cailleau’s LABORAT (2014) introduces the Viennale Retrospective 2021. This film of about twenty minutes is featured in one of the multifaceted programs that constitute this year’s retrospective. They have been put together by programmers whose curatorial practice is characterized by promoting a critical cinema that questions the given conditions. The selections made by these delegates, who in turn have been chosen for their experience and sensitivity, emphasize the challenge that has been the catalyst for the entire cycle: namely, that the subversive power of cinema is still able to influence our view of things, to problematize things, and ultimately even to change them.
The image puts emphasis on the gaze of cinema, the gaze in cinema and its infinite possibilities: it’s a gaze that goes beyond the human dimension. This is one of the themes of this journey, inspired by Amos Vogel. His legacy lives on in all corners and film cultures of the world, and it comes together in the different strands that this retrospective explores and connects. We wanted to create a multi-voiced and collaborative retrospective that through its form alone underscores what other paths toward change and subversion are possible today.