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‘Seeing or believing’: Harmony Korine and the cinema of self-destruction

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The films of writer and director, Harmony Korine (Gummo (1997) and Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)), are considered in terms of the cultural positioning of American ‘independent film making’. The article is critical of overemphasized associations with the work of Larry Clark and offers an in-depth account of Korine's Eurocentric and highly stylized response to avant-garde film-making processes. The article develops a critical account of Korine's various techniques identified as a new form of realism that challenges the traditional notions of political and cultural identities inherent to considerations of American ‘place’. Artaudian surrealism, still-life painting and Dogme 95 inform the treatment of Korine's endeavour to unearth hidden and imaginary landscapes resistant to generalized themes of location and orientation in American film-making.

Keywords: Harmony Korine; place; representation; subjectivity; visuality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Kingston University.

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.  
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