Body Genres After the End of History
The turn of the twenty-first century was marked by a renewed interest in the body on screen. From disaster films and body horror to movements like the French New Extreme or the Romanian New Wave, these new cinémas du corps transcended both generic and national boundaries. Russia followed this trend with works by filmmakers like Vasilii Sigarev, Valeria Gai Germanika, and later Kantemir Balagov, whose visceral focus on the body is reminiscent of late-Soviet cinema. But instead of looking at these films as later-day chernukha, in this talk, I consider their representations of physicality as a cultural response to a new kind of biopolitics that took place with the spread of neoliberalism to the post-Soviet space. Looking at Russian cinema alongside concurrent trends in European film reveals that while they may differ in modes of representing the body or the kinds of viewer they construct, all of them seek to create a biopolitical subject as a critique of social conditions that obtain under neoliberalism. Taking a transnational approach, the talk will also interrogate the extent to which the notion of cultural singularity can still be applied to twenty-first-century film and raise a broader question of how neoliberal subjectivity can be represented in the visual arts.
Daria V. Ezerova is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Russian Studies at the University of Cambridge. Her work focuses on Russian Cinema from the late Soviet era to the present. She is currently completing a book, Derelict Futures: Russian Cinema and the Spaces of Postmodernity, about filmic representations of space and built environment that enfold attitudes toward history in the wake of the Soviet collapse. A recipient of the Harriman Institute postdoctoral fellowship, she has contributed to Slavic Review, Russian Review, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema, Senses of Cinema, and KinoKultura. Since 2017, she has been president of the ASEEES Working Group on Cinema and Television.