Stedelijk UNIVERSITY #2. Between Suspense and Labyrinth: Alfred Hitchcock in the Museum
30 Oct 2016

Teijin Auditorium
2 - 5 pm
Ticket regular €10 / student €7,50

Ticket regular Ticket student

Stedelijk UNIVERSITY annually offers a short lecture series on the Sunday afternoon on current topics in contemporary art theory and the museum world. This first edition is provided by Professor Thomas Elsaesser (Emeritus Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and since 2013 related to, among others, Columbia University, New York).

During the series The Moving Image in the Museum: The Cinema Experience Relocated, Elsaesser will investigate the way in which contemporary art is increasingly making use of film, video and the history of cinema. The five sessions are highlights of a series of lectures which Elsaesser gave earlier this year at Columbia University.

This second lecture, to be held on Sunday October 30, is titled:
Between Suspense and Labyrinth: Alfred Hitchcock in the Museum

From being considered a gifted craftsman, technically skilled and ambitious, Alfred Hitchcock became one of the great artists of the 20th century. His name has become an adjective, and like Picasso, everyone knows not only what his work looks like, but what it ‘feels’ like, whether they have studied it or not. Hitchcock’s consecration became complete and official in 2001, when first in Montreal and then at the Centre Pompidou in Paris “Hitchcock et l’Art: Coincidences Fatales” opened to wide acclaim. But even before then Hitchcock had become one of contemporary artists’ most rewarding targets, considering all those who have taken the ‘master of suspense’ and the Sphinx of ‘pure cinema’ as their pretext: Judith Barry (1980), Victor Burgin (1984), Cindy Sherman (1986), Stan Douglas (1989), Christian Marclay (1990), Douglas Gordon (1993), David Reed (1994), Pierre Huyghe (1995), Tony Oursler (1996), Cindy Bernard (1997) and Matthias Müller- Christoph Girardet (1999). The session will probe this fascination, and ask how a filmmaker so much associated with suspense, an effect dependent on linear time, could become (after his death) such a successful gallery artist, a space of contemplation that aspires to being timeless.

Oct 16 2016        Opening lecture: Cinema and Museum: Rivals or Partners?
Oct 30 2016        Between Suspense and Labyrinth: Alfred Hitchcock in 
                                the Museum
Nov 13 2016       The Poetics and Politics of the Obsolete: Tacita Dean and  
                                the Materiality of Celluloid 
Nov 20 2016       Projection & Transparency - the return of the
                               Phantasmagoric: Johan Grimonprez’ Dark Ages
Dec 11 2016       Closing lecture: Attention, Distraction & Distribution of the senses


During the past three decades, cinema has redefined itself in several ways: as a post-photographic medium, as global entertainment, and as a still significant public sphere. But it has also entered the museums, galleries and art spaces as a major attraction, a space of self-reflection and a means of activist intervention. Classic directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Luc Godard are granted museum retrospectives, along with major exhibitions featuring contemporary filmmakers (Abbas Kiarostami, Chantal Akerman, Harun Farocki, Agnes Varda, Johan Grimonprez). Often, these exhibitions highlight fundamental incompatibilities and exposing inherent contradictions of  encounters between contemporary art and cinema.

The migration of moving images (and sounds) into the museum may signal that the cinema has finally come to be recognized as the art form of the 20th century. Consequently, cinema has earned the right to enter into the traditional institutions of patronage, artistic heritage and cultural patrimony. But the move may also constitute a kind of ‘takeover bid’ and confirm the much-heralded ‘death’ of cinema, predicated on making the cinema ready for archival preservation and embalmed obsolescence.

The course will ask how complementary, contradictory or productively challenging are the ‘black box’ and the ‘white cube’ in such a new arrangement of space, duration and spectatorship? Besides case-studies, general topics will include: projection, appropriation, obsolescence, the archive, found footage, documentary and the essay film.


Thomas Elsaesser is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Media and Culture of the University of Amsterdam. From 2006 to 2012 he was Visiting Professor at Yale and since 2013 he is Visiting Professor at Columbia University. Elsaesser was one of the founding members of ASCA, the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, and he is General Editor of ‘Film Culture in Transition’ for Amsterdam University Press, a book series this year publishing its 50th volume. Elsaesser has received numerous awards and distinctions, including Fellow of the British Academy and Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion. Among his recent books as author are German Cinema - Terror and Trauma: Cultural Memory Since 1945 (New York: Routledge, 2013), Film Theory – An Introduction through the Senses (with Malte Hagener, 2nd revised edition, New York: Routledge, 2015), and Film History as Media Archaeology (Amsterdam University Press, 2016).  He is currently completing a book on European Cinema and Continental Thought (London: Bloomsbury, 2017). More information, as well as essays for downloading can be found at