Death to the real!

A workshop on documentary practice and radical thought
Amsterdam University of the Arts, Netherlands Film Academy, Master in Artistic Research In and Through Cinema, 7-9 November 2022
A workshop by Pablo Martínez-Zárate


The documentary mode is one the most potent platforms for the creation of discourses and perceptions at a global scale. In its multiple manifestations, from the use of social networks to document our everyday lives, passing through documentary series in streaming platforms, to manifestations of expanded cinema, journalism and contemporary art, documentary practice has opened its path as a necessary territory for the confirmation, questioning and renovation of our societal coexistence. This workshop shares theoretical insights, artistic methodologies and research strategies for the creation of narrative pieces that turn to documentary research and experimentation in various forms, with outcomes as diverse as fiction or non-fiction film, expanded cinema and video art, photography and contemporary art, as well as transmedia projects that inhabit different media.

Workshop structure

Death to the real!, in its edition for the NFA – MA, is a three day workshop (4 hours per session, 12 hours total) that aims to reflect on artistic experimentation as a critical dispositive to investigate and intervene reality. The workshop is organized on the discussion of central themes and methodological insights that intertwine with more or less intensity depending on the group’s engagement and research interests. Parallel to the thematic discussions, an effort to connect with the participant’s projects and main research challenges will guide the discussions.

Workshop outcome

The participants will work on a freestyle research narrative map that will be done throughout the three days of the workshop. This critical cartography is conceived as a reflexive take on their own artistic research processes, their main themes, methodologies, challenges, references, among other elements. The final shape of this deliverable is entirely free in form, it could be a panel in the style of Waburg’s Atlas panels, a mind map, a collage, a word cloud, a sound diary of the three days, or any shape that the participants can imagine and manage with the resources available (especially considering the short time of the workshop).

Workshop content

Link to sessions

Session 1

  • Introduction: The Case Against Reality
  • Gaze, Media and Memory
  • Radicality as Method
  • Introduction to the Practical Critique of Communication as a theoretical and methodological framework: Poetics of Information, Documentary Art and Eccentric Pedagogy

Session 2

  • Micro-inventory of radical methodologies:
    • Montage as an intervention of reality
    • The archive as a critical event
    • Forensic Imagination and Critical Media Archaeology
    • The camera-body and the body-camera

Session 3

  • The Artist Studio as a Political Territory
  • Ethics, Aesthetics and Research Narratives

Extended Bibliography

Extended Filmography