Abstract

A recurring feature of Patrick Keiller’s work is the lack of human presence and activity. Throughout his films, Keiller delivers a vision of England as a desert island, depopulated and unoccupied. Scrutinizing Keiller’s early shorts and feature-length films, this article argues that the absence of human subjects allows the filmmaker to articulate a broader discourse on space, so that the films can be described as “spatial fictions.” Keiller, by aligning his work with various strands of utopian thinking on space—from the surrealists to Henri Lefebvre and the situationists—forces us to think the relationship between cinema and space and offers a geography of absence as the precondition for the imagination of a new space. The article shows how this framework informs Keiller’s visual grammar, including his emphasis on a deliberate scarcity of gestures and the invisibility of the cinematic apparatus. By withdrawing from the production of the image, Keiller suggests that the absence of a sign always functions as the sign of an absence.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1751-7435
Print ISSN
1743-2197
Pages
pp. 263-278
Launched on MUSE
2016-12-23
Open Access
No
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