In October 2016, we organized a symposium in Basel, Switzerland, in commemoration of Chantal Akerman. Through screenings of her films, as well as talks, presentations, and accounts of friends and collaborators, the event focused on issues of remembering and forgetting. In Akerman’s films, history insists, returns, refuses to disappear. Memories are haunting and haunt those who were, and are, persecuted. The conference examined Akerman’s cinematic strategies of taking time to forget in transforming the traces of history into resistive forms. In working with cinematic forms of alienation, repetition, and permutation; in inventing shots that point to the lacking and the missing; in transmitting unexpected voices and sounds; and in creating hybrid forms of unadaptable identities, Akerman unflinchingly produces forms of persistent memories. The following short texts by the participants in the symposium condense their contributions, their thoughts, and the sometimes contradictory positions that surfaced after the viewing of Akerman’s films. Films served as spaces of resistance, reconsidering the boundaries of history and presence, of fiction and document, and of biography and historiography. The authors are scholars, curators, and collaborators; some were her friends; many share several of these attributes. As organizers of the symposium, we asked them to shed light on the papers given on the occasion by returning to the theme of the difficulty of forgetting.

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