Documentary art

DEFINITION

Any artwork the purpose of which is to present facts objectively, without inserting fictional matter, recording and/or commenting on some content, often political or social, by accumulating factual detail. Many conceptual art installations of the 1970s were overtly documentary ? e.g., Post-Partum Project by Mary Kelly (American), the various Reading Rooms by Joseph Kosuth (American, 1945-), Guggenheim Trustees by Hans Haacke (German, 1936-). More common examples: documentary films. Not to be confused with documentation.Examples: Robert Flaherty (American, 1884-1951), Nanook of the North, 1922, 35 mm film, black and white and color tinted, silent, 56 minutes. This is often cited as a pioneering exemplar of documentrary cinema.Michael Moore (American, contemporary), director and narrator, Fahrenheit 9/11, 2004, 35 mm film, c. 110 minutes. Moore's Web site calls it a "searing examination of the Bush administration's actions in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11." This and others of Moore's movies are typically called documentary films. But makers of documentary works are generally expected to be as objective as possible, and Moore is unappologetic about shaping (by his choice of interviewees, questions to them, narrative, and editing) his works (by his choice of interviewees, questions to them, narrative, and editing) in supporting his opinions. His films might be called editorialized, polemics, or diatribes, but they have also been called this P word ? propaganda. At least in part, this is because others promote Moore's films to pursuade audiences to take Moore's opinions. Considering the negative connotations attached to the word "propaganda," people who enjoy such works would naturally prefer to categorize Moore's films as documentary rather than propaganda, wishing to give these films the most positive spin possible. Nevertheless, if Fahrenheit 9/11 merits the use of the P word, Michael Moore is apparently rehabilitating it.

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