Adam Curtis – The World of the Self/Our World
Sat 8 December, & Sun 9 December
Whitechapel Art Gallery
Angel Alley Entrance
80 – 82 Whitechapel High Street
London, E1 7QX
+44 (0)20 7522 7888
“Adam Curtis is one of the best-known documentary filmmakers in Britain. His films have won numerous awards including 6 Baftas and have been shown at festivals around the world. They fuse together hard critical journalism with techniques borrowed from a wide-range of experimental film and video techniques.
“Out of this he has created a body of work that examines how power functions in modern society – not just in politics but also in many of the institutions and activities that permeate our lives today – from science to consumerism, modern psychology and the way our society fights terrorism.
“Over this unique weekend programmed by Adam Curtis a cross-section of episodes from various series that span his career propose a stunning argument. Considered together these works tell a bigger story than that of their specific subjects. It is the story of our time. How we have moved into a world that is dominated and driven by the ideas, the dreams and the emotional needs and cravings of the individual self.
“Nothing is more important today than the individual self and its freedom to do, to feel and to get what it wants. This is the belief that guides our politicians, all those who run marketing and advertising, and all of our media.
“And it is what we all believe.
“Over two days Adam Curtis will show how episodes from four of his series can be re-conceptualized equally as the story of the rise of this ideology and a critical examination of how it has come to limit and trap both us and our leaders into a narrow and static universe.
“The screenings range from one episode of the early series Pandora’s Box to The Century of the Self, which describes how Freud’s ideas of the inner irrational drive inside human beings came to shape the rise of modern public relations, consumerism and the way we feel about ourselves – and how this view eventually took over politics itself.
“In The Power of Nightmares two groups who could not be more different in their aims – the Neo-Conservatives in America and the Islamists – are united in a belief that the unbridled self is corrupting society. The series examines how both of them set out to stop this, but how in the process they in fact helped create today’s world of paranoia and fear.
“Finally in The Trap the subject becomes the death of the self – how, behind the dream of individual freedom, is actually a very narrow and peculiar idea of freedom and human nature that has come to enslave both us and our leaders. Such a freedom is actually a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic creatures who constantly watch and monitor each other suspiciously. The Trap shows how in this idea of freedom lay the seeds of new forms of social control – not imposed from outside of us, but constructed by the ways in which we monitor ourselves.”
Saturday 8 December, 2007
4pm – Pandora’s Box: To The Brink of Eternity, 1992, 60’
5.30pm – The Century of the Self, Part One: Happiness Machines, 2002, 60’
7pm – The Century of the Self, Part Three: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads He Must Be Destroyed, 2002, 60’
Following the screening Adam Curtis is in conversation with artist Josephine Pryde and Mike Sperlinger, Assistant Director of LUX, independent writer and editor.
Sunday 9 December, 2007
4pm – The Power of Nightmares, Part One: Baby Its Cold Outside, 2004, 60’
5.30pm – The Trap, Part 2: The Lonely Robot, 2007, 60’
7pm – Adam Curtis on The World of the Self
“Adam Curtis presents an illustrated talk on the ideas behind this unique series and the things that link these episodes together, looking at both the extraordinarily wide range of source material that the films employ and their structure of modern collage as form of contemporary journalism.”
£5 per screening
* concs and Whitechapel Members. Free for Patrons & Associates.
There was a lengthy interview with Curtis at The Register recently: