Imaginary School Program

A Workshop by Mona Baker

Prefigurative Politics and Creative Subtitling

Prefiguration involves experimenting with ways of enacting the principles being advocated by an activist group in the here and now, rather than at some future point when the conditions for the ‘ideal society’ have already been created, thus collapsing the traditional distinction between means and ends. Experimentation and innovation are central to this process because the contours of the better world activists seek to bring into being are not predetermined.

This workshop will explore various aspects of the prefigurative practices of volunteer subtitlers involved in contemporary protest movements. The focus on subtitling acknowledges the growing reliance of activist projects on the circulation of video clips of varying lengths, subtitled into a variety of languages. Forms of prefiguration can include both interactional practices among subtitlers, or between them and film makers and other activists, as well as textual and aesthetic innovations directly evident in the space and format of subtitles. The workshop will engage with both actual practices of prefiguration as well as potential strategies that are not attested in activist subtitling but could be deployed to enhance its political import.

Clips from Night Watch, as well as some clips from Mosireen and Words of Women will be used to illustrate the argument.