Chris Hayes is a writer based in Ireland and the UK. He has been published by Art Monthly, Art Review, Burlington Contemporary, frieze, Tribune and The White Review amongst many others.
His thesis is about two films, Chris Marker’s Cuba Si! and Agnes Varda’s Salut les Cubains. The films are about Cuba, yet they are not made by Cubans. Each plays with the visual language of politically-engaged documentary, the video essay and, at times, poetry.
They are examples of many things: the optimism felt by artists, writers and filmmakers about socialism through the 20th century; they are tremendously influential examples of avant-garde cinema; each is a turning point in the life and career of its maker.
The form of this essay is discursive and polemical, and offers a reappraisal of a lineage of politically-engaged art and filmmaking. Crucial to my argument is an interrogation of the aesthetics of purpose, critique, didacticism and propaganda, and a consideration of what it might mean to return to such examples today.