Bélla Tarr’s The Turin Horse: Without the world, or, the compulsive promise of pessimism.

Authors: Paul Harrison*, Durham University
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: World, deconstruction, Bélla Tarr,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Regent, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Turin Horse (2011), Bella Tarr’s last film, takes place on a solitary farm on some forgotten steppe. The wind is unceasing. On a carriage pulled by a single horse, a farmer is returning to his daughter. Poverty and repetitive labour pervade. Waking, getting dressed, harnessing and unharnessing the horse, mending and washing clothes, fetching water from the well, cooking, eating, getting undressed, going to bed. Talk is functional and abrupt, affection all but non-existent. Outside their daily tasks the father or the daughter sit at a window next to stove gazing at the barren landscape beyond and the beaten tree which stands on the horizon. Dust and leaves fill the air. A study of damnation, The Turin Horse will depict this world, a world without transcendence or immanence, without salvation or creation. An abandoned world. The question this paper asks is, what, if anything, remains for us in such a landscape? What remains when, as Jacques Derrida puts it, there is no longer any world to “support us, serve as mediation, as ground, as alibi”, what remains there, when there is “no longer anything but the abyssal altitude of the sky” (2005 p.158).

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