Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub collaborated on films together from the mid-1960s through the mid-2000s, making formally radical adaptations in several languages of major works of European literature by authors including Franz Kafka, Bertolt Brecht, Friedrich Hölderlin, Pierre Corneille, Arnold Schoenberg, Cesare Pavese, and Elio Vittorini. The impact of their work comes in part from a search for radical objectivity, a theme present in certain underground currents of modernist art and theory in the writings of Benjamin and Adorno as well as in the "Objectivist" movement, a crucial group within American modernist poetry whose members included Louis Zukofsky, George Oppen, and Charles Reznikoff, with connections to William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound. Through a detailed analysis of the films of Straub and Huillet, the works they adapted, and Objectivist poems and essays, Benoît Turquety locates common practices and explores a singular aesthetic approach where a work of art is conceived as an object, the artist an anonymous artisan, and where the force of politics and formal research attempt to reconcile with one another.
Benoît Turquety is a professor in the film department at the University of Lausanne and director of the SNF research project on Bolex and amateur cinema. He is a founding member of the Material Archival Studies Network, and a member of the Dispositives research group, of the Network for Experimental Media Archaeology, and the Technology and the Humanities project.
Ted Fendt is a translator, editor, filmmaker, and projectionist based in New York. He is the editor of Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet (Austrian Film Museum, 2016), has translated English subtitles for the films of Jean-Marie Straub since 2013, and his translations of film criticism have appeared in print and online in publications including Cinema Scope, Mubi Notebook, Lola Journal and Robert Bresson (Revised) (ed. James Quandt, 2013).