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Les Antiquités de Rome (Jean-Claude Rousseau, France, 105')

Les Antiquités de Rome


Les Antiquités de Rome, Jean-Claude Rousseau, France, 1991, 105' 16mm, OV FR, Sub ES

Guest: Jean-Claude Rousseau



Thou stranger which for Rome in Rome here seekest
And nought of Rome in Rome perceivst at all

         – Joachim Du Bellay (Translation by Edmund Spenser, 1591)



"Yes, and that’s a basic point in Les Antiquités de Rome, which despite its title doesn’t show any of Rome’s antiquities, or we could say that it shows the minimum, virtually nothing. All we see of the Pantheon is the oculus in the dome, the Cestius Pyramid is shown flattened, so it becomes little more than a triangle without any thickness, the Coliseum is barely glimpses at the end of the street, at night, the Arch of Constantine was being renovated when I filmed it, covered in scaffolding, and there was almost nothing left of the Circus Maximus, and so on. And what we find here is the idea that we have to show less in order to see better. What you mentioned about inwards – what you see or you don’t see through them – leads me precisely to that idea: to try to show as little as possible. And in fact, the best thing would be not to show anything at all. That’s what happens when the connection between the lines and the volumes causes our gaze to pass through the frame, and it doesn’t dwell on the pattern, the gaze goes beyond the pattern... That’s what I mean when I say that our gaze becomes trapped by that connection of lines and volumes: it reaches a state of intellectual absence, and it’s no longer about observing what is shown, rather that the gaze goes beyond what is shown. It’s a state of absence, of abandonment. Of weakness, even, I should say".


           – Jean-Claude Rousseau

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