Beautiful Images of Global Issues: commercial aesthetics in contemporary culture

photo – Yannis Behrakis

More than 60 years ago, French filmmaker Jacques Rivette condemned the abjection of a tracking shot filming the suicide of a concentration camp’s detainee in Gillo Pontecorvo’s film Kapò. Today, Don’t Look Up director Adam McKay’s denounces oil companies ‘cheesy footage’ lulling viewers in a ‘catatonic state’ to make them forget the companies’ responsibility in global warming. Can beautiful images illustrate dire human situations? Can one separate the content of the image from its form to fully appreciate it? With a focus on mainstream images of human migrations, this talk discusses the contemporary commercial aesthetics that influence all visual fields from interior design to fashion and makeup.

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Elsa Gomis holds a Critical PhD by Practice in Film Studies from the University of East Anglia. She teaches European Cinema at Oxford Department of Modern Languages and is a Visiting Researcher at Maison Française of Oxford where she co-organises the webinar series New Imaginaries of Migration.

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