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Eternity Has No Door of Escape: Encounters with Outsider Art

A film by Arthur Borgnis

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"Outsider art" challenges established historical categories and transcends artistic movements. A translation of the French term art brut, a phrase coined by the painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet in the aftermath of World War II, this label was applied to works produced by artists suffering from mental illness, practitioners of Spiritism, and self-taught visionaries. Their work compels viewers to question aesthetic and cultural norms, and the place attributed to those with disabilities in our society.

Drawing its title from a celebrated exhibition of the work of collectors Jean-David Mermod and Philippe Eternod at Switzerland's Gottardo Art Gallery, ETERNITY HAS NO DOOR OF ESCAPE traces the tumultuous history of art brut and introduces us to its pivotal figures, including psychiatrist and art collector Dr. Hans Prinzhorn; curator Harald Szeemann; and Surrealist artist and writer André Breton. Its expert interviewees adding context and background to the history of art brut include writers Déborah Couette, Laurent Danchin, Savine Faupin, Thomas Röske and Michel Thevoz; curators Lucienne Peiry and Carine Fol; artists Michel Nedjar; psychiatrists Béatrice Steiner and Andreas Altorfer and more.

Using a treasure trove of rare archival footage, much of it previously unseen, the film brings viewers to the places and institutions in France, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium where the history of "Outsider Art" unfolded and continues to unfold today.

Arthur Borgnis' documentary invites viewers to lose themselves in the universes beyond logic and reason, in the works of artists including Adolf Wölfli, Aloïse Corbaz, Augustin Lesage and August Natterer. ETERNITY HAS NO DOOR OF ESCAPE: ENCOUNTERS WITH OUTSIDER ART introduces enigmatic, challenging creators; raises questions about the definition and purpose of art; and draws attention to a fascinating and essential realm too often overlooked by history.

“An excellent history of what is called outsider art or, to use the French term, art brut… a splendid introduction to a fascinating byway in the course of art history. Recommended.” —Video Librarian

"In spite of the density and richness of the material it covers, Eternity Has No Door of Escape leaves ample space for discovery, wonder, and contemplation. Offering a comprehensive, nuanced summary of the history of outsider art in a documentary is no small feat."Raphael Koenig, Raw Vision Magazine

"Encourages us to question the mysteries of artistic creation."Sens Critique

"Arthur Borgnis' film traces the history of Art Brut from the early 20th-century to present day."Notes on Art Brut

Highly Recommended! Absorbing subject-matter and multi-faceted perspective. Gives thorough examination to art brut’s founding artists, [works, and] cultural contexts in which art brut found its original meaning."Jeanette Aprile, University at Buffalo, in Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)

"This film presents a fascinating account of the impact of Art Brut on society at large punctuated with a powerful message that art is for everyone." Donna Betts, Ph.D., ATR-BC, Former President, the American Art Therapy Association

"Recommended! An excellent history of what is called outsider art or, to use the French term, art brut… a splendid introduction to a fascinating byway in the course of art history."Frank Swietek, Ph.D., University of Dallas, TX, in the journal Video Librarian

"[Documents] the recognition of the mentally disabled as equally capable of self-expression and for their output to be rated alongside the work of other artists. A good briefing for newcomers to the topic." Mike Leggett, Ph.D., Leonardo Reviews

“Fascinating! Uncovers and explores an important body of work that has been mostly buried from both the art and mental health worlds. An incredible journey through a rich history.”Judy Rollins, Ph.D., RN, Georgetown University School of Medicine

"A captivating, visually-rich and authoritative overview of the history of Art Brut, its key players and some of the artists that define the genre. A must-see for anyone who wishes to know more about this fascinating, overlooked and often misunderstood artistic movement." Victoria Tischler, Head of Dementia Care Centre and Professor of Arts & Health, University of West London

2019 Western Psychological Association
2018 Fine Arts Film Festival
2017 Art Brut, University of Lausanne
2017 Outsider Art Symposium, Dusseldorf University

80 minutes / Color/B&W
French; German / English subtitles
Release: 2018
Copyright: 2017

For individual consumers (home video)

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This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Art, Disabilities, Anthropology (Cultural), Cultural Anthropology, Disabilities, History (World), Health, Health & Health Care, Psychology & Psychiatry

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