Editorial, Magazin

Editorial: Poetry film as art

Dear readers,

To what extent can a poetry film be labelled a work of art? Did it establish itself yet as a form of fine art? The poetry film scene certainly grants it this status. However, looking beyond it, the status of the poetry film as an independent fine arts form appears to be unclear.

A survey of the venues where poetry films are shown might be revealing. First of all, there is the cinema with films such as Dead Poets Society, Neruda or Paterson. They apply established dramaturgy and visual language patterns of the mainstream cinema. Apart from that, there is a tradition of the poetic auteur cinema which aims at using the fertile proximity of film and poetry by adopting the language of poems to the visual language of film.

The poetry film as a piece of fine art may often be found where it is not explicitly produced for the cinema screen. Be it an experimental short film, spoken word video installation, interactive application, performance or other gallery or exhibition event: The audiovisual avantgarde leaves the realm of cinema and brings poetry films to venues where one would not expect to find it in the first place. Film festivals rarely show these kind of films because they are often difficult to curate as part of a film screening event, whereas in the context of the fine arts, they are not considered as poetry films although the genre-specific problems such as the integration and relation of text, sound and moving images appear to be the same.

In this magazine’s issue, we are going to discuss the artistic state of the poetry film. Moreover, we aim to analyse art experiments which were not primarily intended to be presented on the cinema screen in order to find out what we can gain from these films with regard to the extent to which the poetry film as fine art – the reference to Rudolf Arnheim’s classic is intended – is by now established.


We are calling for contributions that deal – exemplary or in general – with the fine art aspects of poetry films. They can discuss individual installations or performances, focus on individual artists or events, investigate traditions of the film and art history or follow up on theoretical discourses. Possible questions could be: Are poetry films works of art or can they rather be regarded as media events in the first place? Is the work or the event character paramount? How is the performativity of the lyrical performance integrated into the closed form of the short film? (Performativity is characterised by the impossibility of repetition. Does this category apply to the medium of film at all?). In how far is the filmic level cracked open in order to go beyond its audio-visual unity? How do installations or interactive works deal with the connection of text, sound and the moving image? Which role does the spectrum of possible associations play when it comes to text-image-relations? We are looking forward to contributions that investigate the realm between performativity and mediality as exemplified by the poetry film.

Essays (10,000 characters long and no footnotes if possible) can be submitted until the end of July.

We are looking forward to inspiring discussions!

Aline Helmcke, Guido Naschert