Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Ax Fight (1975)




During Friday's introduction of the Museum of Non-Participation, Amy Kazymerchyk mentioned Brad Butler's research interest in experimental ethnography, which immediately brought to mind a film we were shown in my second year Cultural Anthropology class, a film most undergraduates in anthropology are familiar with.

The Ax Fight (1975) by Tim Asch, Patsy Asch and evolutionary anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon is a thirty minute film about a 1971 conflict that takes place in a Yanomami village in Southern Venezuela. Chagnon, who by then was well-known for his fieldwork among the Yanomamo (his Yanomamo: The Fierce People, 1968, remains the biggest-selling ethnography of all-time), described the Yanomami he studied as in a state of "chronic war," a situation/condition that today's world leaders continue to foster as a means of social control -- namely through fear.

While watching The Ax Fight again this morning I recalled the first question asked of the Museum of Non-Participation after Friday's screening of Deep State, which concerned the subject position of the camera and the videomakers' relative absence from the work -- a question they responded to by talking about how tired their bodies were at the time their video was made. In The Ax FIght, the response by the Asches and Chagnon is most apparent, and provides its own related stream.

1 comment:

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