Screening the city: a cinematographic archaeology of the city of Brussels

After graduating from the University of Ghent in the field of Educational Sciences, Peter Van Goethem followed an Advanced Study in Philosophy of Education at the KU Leuven. As he explored the way education and film are strongly interwoven, this research deepened his interest in the way film itself can be an educational philosophical practice. After he finished his studies at the KU Leuven he undertook a BA course in documentary film, at the Rits department of drama and audio-visual arts of the Erasmus University College Brussels. Throughout his film practice he has always approached the documentary as a fully-fledged research practice in which theoretical research generates ideas fundamental to the filmmaking process. Besides his academic background and his practice as a filmmaker, he’s an active writer which led to several articles in rekto:verso, Mo*, Apache, De Wereld Morgen and Cinemagie. In his work as a painter, he concentrates mainly on the tradition of portraiture and landscape, questioning, for example, the film genre in relation to the painted portrait.

Screening the City is an artistic research project (doctorate in the arts) focusing on the relationship between cinema and the city of Brussels. This project engages with the fields of film studies, artistic research and urban studies. The project, of which the final stage will be a documentary,
aims to investigate what the cinematic representation of Brussels reveals about the (post)modern urban experience. This documentary, which could be defined as a cinematic archaeology of Brussels, will entail three phases. Each phase focuses on a preliminary goal:
1/ To document Brussels as a city in transition, using archival film material.
2/ To map the everyday experience of urban (post)modernity by means of a cartographic reading
of Brussels and its cinematic representation.
3/ To artistically reinvent this very same mode of representation.
To realize these goals, three different steps will be taken:
1/ To cover an extended inventory of the existing archival film material in depicting the city both historically and contemporarily.
2/ To develop a cinematic cartography in which the historical selected film footage will give insight in the everyday experience of Brussels, while at the same time integrating newly shot footage.
3/ In the third and central step, this cartography will act as a research tool in the creation of the actual documentary. This will take the form of a city elegy, commenting and reflecting the cinematic imagination of past and present urban experiences of Brussels.