Public Domain. Hollis Frampton

Is cinema an invention without a future? The session dedicated to Hollis Frampton attempts to answer this question and also to examine what role the early films, including those of the Lumière brothers, and the history of cinema played in the work of this American filmmaker.

Hollis Frampton made Public Domain and Straits of Magellan: Drafts and Fragments at a time when his work revolved around Magellan, his last great unfinished cycle of films. This unfinished work represents a conception of cinema and its history, detached from the artistic and linked with all the materials that were filmed, no matter for what purpose, a kind of infinite film in which the Ohio filmmaker works like an archaeologist trying restore some of its monuments. This session sets out to trace some of them, specifically those linked to the first films made, such as those of the Lumière brothers and Edison.

Frampton spent a lot of time at the US Library of Congress researching its collection of films printed on paper, films from the so-called “primitive” period made before 1912, with rights in the public domain. He planned to use many of these pieces, approximately one minute long, as a compositional leitmotif for Magellan. One of the results of this archival research was Public Domain, comprising old films arranged alphabetically, including Edison’s Record of a Sneeze (1894) and Electrocuting an Elephant (1902).

Straits of Magellan also forms a catalogue of “current events” made by Frampton, evoking the cinema of the Lumière brothers. In many cases it is a direct allusion, as in the American filmmaker’s reworking of Démolition d’un mur (1895); in others, metaphorical: the Lumière operators, like Magellan, travelled all around the world capturing images of different places. Of the 720 silent one-minute films that Frampton planned to shoot, only 49 were made, but these drafts and fragments are a central element of Magellan, which, as well as evoking early cinema, uses a series of analogies to reflect on what it means to see in the cinema.

Hollis Frampton: Public Domain, 1972, silent, 14’; The Straits of Magellan: Drafts and Fragments, 1974, silent, 51’.

16-mm projection.

Copies from the Film-Makers’ Cooperative.

22 February 2024


Access will not be allowed once the screening has started

The Auditorium
Admission fee

€ 4 / € 3 Concessions
5-session pass: € 15 / € 12 Concessions
Friends of the CCCB: free of charge

Tickets on sale at the CCCB ticket offices ( / 933064100) and online.
Passes are only available from the ticket desk.

Buy tickets