In Girum Revisited...

2017, 14:46 min, color, sound, HD video

Xavier Costa writes: "Muntadas’ In girum revisited… presents a series of long sequences of the city of Venice seen from its canals, from the water, captured by a camera on a boat. Starting with the title, it is a reference to Guy Debord’s sequences, included in his film In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni of 1978, Debord’s last cinematic work. As in some other Debord’s films, this was partly based on found footage of different kinds, where the Venice sequences, probably shot specifically for In girum, were interspersed between other cinematic fragments. These sequences appear and disappear a few times through the film, expressing a movement as well as an urban spatiality that embraces the entire narrative as a visual derive.

Muntadas has edited and brought together Debord’s Venice sequences, to restitute a continuous movement through the city. The 1978 images are credited in In girum revisited.. through a small window that match the present-day filming of the city. Additionally, in the 1978 film, Debord superimposed his comments on the cinematic collage, without a direct connection between images and spoken words, an element that Muntadas has kept for the Venice images.

Back in 1957, shortly after the foundation of the Situationist International, Debord wrote the essay Psychogeographical Venice, intended as the preface to a book that was never written. In this brief text, Debord articulated an approach to Venice based on psychogeography (“one of the aspects of the conscious arrangement of ambiance that one begins to call situationist,”) and the derive --Venice seen as an unmappable labyrinth, a familiar terra incognita, according to Thomas de Quincey. Therefore, Debord announced Venice as the first city to be object of psychogeographical work, a guide for urban derives. Inspired by Debord’s interest in Venice, Muntadas presented his Derive Veneziane in 2015, a film that shows a wandering journey through Venice by boat, at night --an exploration of darkness, loneliness, discovery and phantasmagoria along a drifting experience of the city.

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni is an ancient palindrome – 'They turn around in the night consumed by fire,' which refers to the ephemeral brilliance of fireflies, as well as to a view of history where revolutions are bursts of 'momentary brilliance' that consume themselves in their own fire.

According to Debord’s own comments, previous to the opening of the film (a manuscript fragment dated 22 December, 1977), both its images and commentary focus on the theme of water as a visual metaphor for the 'flowing of time,' for the 'evanescence of everything.' Water, that is, the passing of time, ends up drowning the flaming moments of revolutions.

Debord superimposed his spoken words on the images of In girum imus nocte, articulating these ideas through sentences that read: 'nothing is ever proved except by the real movement that dissolves existing conditions,' 'events, people, everything constantly slips away, like the ceaseless waves of the Yangtze that vanish into the sea,' 'like lost children we live our unfinished adventures,' and 'we came forth like water and are gone like the wind.' He quoted poets who used water to evoke the passing of time -- Li Po, Omar Khayyam, Heraclitus, Bossuet, Shelley.

n some previous projects, under the common title of Media Sites/Media Monuments (1981-2007), Muntadas had paired some black-and-white images that corresponded to urban sites at the time they had witnessed or framed relevant political events widely reproduced by media, with present-day color images of the same sites devoid of their previous media presence. connects to these former works, while at the same time projecting the duration, movement and drifting experience that Debord’s concept of derive powerfully introduced in the experience of urban spatiality, and that precisely chose Venice as its first site to apply and test the concept of psychogeography."