THE DEAD CAN DANCE: CINEMATIC GHOSTS OF POST-PUNK MELBOURNE
June 9 / 14:00 CEST
Presentation by Dr Alexia Kannas
The Melbourne post-punk scene of the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s has developed an international reputation as an important and vital moment, yet it is curiously absent from many “official” cultural histories produced in Australia. Initiating the careers of renowned figures such as Nick Cave, Lisa Gerrard and Rowland S. Howard, the scene was a melting pot of ideologically-charged musical and visual arts experimentation that was, as scholar Darren Tofts has pointed out, “hostile to memorialization and longevity, to making history”. This talk will explore the ways film has worked as medium for the returning spectre of the Melbourne post-punk scene, helping to frame the subculture as one which “haunts” the contemporary. It will consider how Richard Lowenstein’s cult feature film Dogs in Space (1986) and his documentaries We’re Livin’ on Dog Food (2009) and Autoluminescent (2012), as well as Donna McRae’s film Johnny Ghost (2012), draw on the figure of the ghost and the notion of spectrality in order to recuperate and make visible this intangible cultural history.
Dr Alexia Kannas is Lecturer in Media & Cinema Studies at RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia). Her research interests lie in the areas of cult cinema; acting and performance; film music; and the representation of place and landscape. She is the author of two books: Deep Red (Columbia University Press/Wallflower, 2017) and Giallo!: Genre, Modernity and Detection in the Italian Horror Film (State University of New York Press, 2020). She is currently writing a monograph on haunting, place and performance in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd. (1950).