6

– Autumn/Winter 2002

Images of an Indivisible Order

Raymond Bellour

Chantal Akerman, La Captive, 35mm, 112min, 1999. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery

Chantal Akerman, La Captive, 35mm, 112min, 1999. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery

I read in a book today that chance, desire, fear and death leave men and women face to face, and alone.
- Ariane to Simon in La Captive

What does it mean to say someone is confined? Not simply someone who can't, or won't, leave his home but, above all, someone who leaves only when pushed by the same power that constrains him to self-isolation. The confined person suffers an ordeal all of his own, one that is rediscovered beyond that life lived within his own four walls, for to feel confinement is to strengthen it.

Auteurs are pre-existed by the very subjects they avail themselves of. But these subjects only exist in as much as they are carried along by an accumulation that, bit by bit, becomes a possession. Confinement is one of the great subjects of the soul, to the extent that one cannot imagine a culture in which it hasn't had a role - long linked to magic and religion - and one that, in our societies, ends up either as the justification for insane laws or as the witness of social dereliction and psychic abandonment to oneself.

Confinement is Chantal Akerman's subject. Her first film is the first voyage towards the four walls that we rediscover time and again: the female adolescent of Saute ma ville - the filmmaker is, straight away, her own actress -