University of Sussex
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Somatic geometry: Jacques Tati's anarchist aesthetics

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 10:57 authored by Diarmuid Hester
Often misunderstood as a byword for chaos, social disorder and the violent destruction of civilisation, perhaps the least bad description of anarchism might rather be an insistent demand for the liberation of the individual from artificially-imposed forms of authority. Critiques advanced by William Godwin, Pierre-Joseph Prudhon, Mikael Bakunin and other leading lights of the anarchist movement, while no doubt disparate in nuance, are all erected upon the fundamental sovereignty of individual will: anarchism thus traditionally perceives systems of authority (the most pernicious of which is the state) as just so many regimes of control, hampering at every turn the expression of this will. Though this vision of anarchy has often surfaced in various art forms (Leo Tolstoy’s work, for instance, emphatically endorses the brand of anarchism espoused by Peter Kropotkin), few artists have proceeded beyond the mere thematic representation of anarchism and sought to introduce these principal currents of anarchistic thought into the very fundaments of the art work itself. Few anarchist artists use the formal composition of their work to proffer a critique of contemporary systems of control and the condition of human life under such systems. It is our contention here, however, that French auteur and comedian Jacques Tati (1907 – 1982) is one such artist. (i) In what follows we will elucidate his anarchist’s vision of the fate of man under authority.


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One+One Filmmakers Journal



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