Toward a Surrealist Visual Anthropology: Images and Reflections on "Dreams from the Concrete Mountain"

CGS Brown Bag Lecture Series
Apr 05, 2017
12:15 PM to 01:15 PM
463 Burrowes

Dr. Alex Fattal, Penn State

Dreams from the Concrete Mountain is an experimental documentary that takes viewers on an oneiric journey with Javier, a former guerrilla of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  The action takes place within the payload of a truck that has been transformed into a giant camera obscura.  The filmic mis-en-scene evokes a confessional, psychoanalytic space where Javier reflects upon his trajectory from a broken home in southern Colombia, into the guerrillas ranks, and back into the civilian sphere, which he calls "the mountain of concrete."  The documentary is still in production and will be fodder for a programmatic article about surrealist visual anthropology.  Come discuss this provocative work with director Alex Fattal, assistant professor of Film-Video and Media Studies.  

Alex Fattal is a visual anthropologist, media studies scholar, and documentary artist whose work exists at the intersection of academia and the art world.  His projects focus on the mediation of the Colombian armed conflict and have exhibited at the United Nations General Assembly Building, MOMA PS1, South Africa's Constitutional Court, among other spaces.  He is professor of Film-Video and Media Studies at Penn State University, and holds a PhD in anthropology from Harvard University where he was an active member of the award winning Sensory Ethnography Lab.  He publishes in scholarly journals as well as the popular press and has been interviewed or quoted in the Guardian, Washington Post, Economist, Los Angeles Times, and NPR's On the Media.  He has two books forthcoming, Guerrilla Marketing:  Counterinsurgency, Capitalism, and the Demobilization of FARC Rebels in Colombia (under contract with University of Chicago Press), and Shooting Cameras for Peace:  Youth, Photography, and the Colombian Armed Conflict (Peabody Museum Press).  Learn more about his work at: and

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