Antonin Artaud's essay "The Human Face" is read by Sylvere Lotringer (English version) in juxtaposition with photographs taken at the Ethnographic Museum at Dahlem, Berlin.
The film explores the dynamic between those "two directions" of meaning that are evoked by Alberto Manguel in his book "The Library at Night": "[O]ur existence flows, like an impossible river, in two directions: from the endless mass of names, places, creatures, stars, books, rituals, memories, illuminations and stones we call the world to the face that stares at us every morning from the depth of the mirror; and from that face, from that body which surrounds a centre we cannot see, from that which names us when we say 'I', to everything that is Other, outside, beyond" (pp.230-231).
Furthermore, in TJ Demos' words: “[I]t is entirely appropriate that this investigation is conducted in the medium of… photography, where we witness ‘the great Frankensteinian dream of the nineteenth century’ (Noël Burch), wherein the dead appear to return to life. As [Anselm] Franke points out in his own engagement with this line of inquiry in relation to contemporary art: ‘The Frankensteinian dream does not undo the subject-object dichotomy; rather, it qualifies it. It is the symptom of a bourgeois hegemonic perspective that has internalised the logic of the divide’ – between animism and objectivism, between a porous relation between subjects and objects and its rigid separation in modern science – ‘and turns the tension, the antagonism between rigor mortis and phantasmagoric animation into an aesthetic economy endlessly reiterated.’”
“[C]apturing the significance of historical experience and even exposing and contesting the fabrication and lies of neo-colonialist revisionism, [t]hese commitments have led to… approaches to what might be variously termed documentary fiction, the film fable, the cinema of affect, the film essay, and the performative documentary. Confronting this blurring of fact and fiction, document and storytelling, it is the language of the literary, speculative, and aesthetic that becomes particularly apt in terms of defining a methodology where truth is not abandoned, but is instead found in the contingencies, conflicts, and shadows of historical discourse, media imagery, and social reality.” (TJ Demos, “Return to the Postcolony”, pp.17-18)