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Performing the Unspeakable. Intermedial Events in András Jeles’s Parallel Lives

Abstract

Among the various connotations of intermediality one is related to the performative aspect of the term. As Ágnes Pethő (2011, 42) formulates: “Intermediality is seen, more often than not, as something that actively ‘does,’ ‘performs’ something, and not merely ‘is.’” This notion of intermediality implies a dynamic category within which media constellations are in continuous motion, being reconfigured by one another, the cinematic medium becoming a playground of media interactions. András Jeles, Hungarian experimental filmmaker formulates the paradox that a particular medium can best express its own mediality through the “foreign” material of other arts and media. The medial consonances and dissonances transform the cinematic medium into a liminal space where meaning as event can take shape. Jeles’s film entitled Parallel Lives (Senkiföldje, 1993) is aimed at such event-like liminality in several respects: culturally, it turns towards a burdened site of the still unprocessed past of the Hungarian society; thematically, it addresses the topic of the Holocaust; and medially, it proposes to artistically render the unrepresentable. The film appeals to the other arts, incorporating a set of literary, painterly and musical allusions that contrast a culturally aestheticized view of the child in pain with the ultimate, inescapable and incommensurable reality.

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