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Held captive in frames: Reconstructing 1970s New York through Chantal Akerman’s Hotel Monterey and News from Home

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In 2011, Chantal Akerman and Nicole Brenez engaged in a series of conversations, published as an extensive transcript entitled ‘Chantal Akerman: The pajama interview’. Essentially this transcript is a uniquely personal and in-depth enquiry into the film-maker’s life, thus marking a possible starting point from which to analyse Akerman’s Hotel Monterey (1972) and News from Home (1976). Both films were shot in 1970s New York, almost entirely by cinematographer Babette Mangolte, and are ideal for contrasting such Deleuzian concepts as the ‘any-space-whatever’, space(s) of transience/transition and milieux (the hotel: its lobby, floors, corridors, etc.; public transportation: subways, overground lines, cabs, the ferry; etc.). In both films, Akerman’s timing and framing of shots – above all the reduction to an extended opsign (Hotel Monterey) – creates autonomous, material realities and spaces for the spectator to contemplate in a cinema of the seer par excellence.
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Keywords: Chantal Akerman; Gilles Deleuze; New York; any-space-whatever; bal(l)ade; milieux; opsign; peripateticism; urban voyage

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Karl Franzens University

Publication date: 01 March 2016

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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