Credit: FIDMarseille
by Michael Sicinski Featured Film

Life Story — Jessica Dunn Rovinelli [FIDMarseille ’24 Review]

July 1, 2024

In Jessica Dunn Rovinelli’s newest short film, the director trains her camera on Australian critical theorist McKenzie Wark. On the audio track we hear Wark deliver a personal and philosophical monologue about identity and modernity, expressing her place in a collective struggle for social justice and happiness, “possible futures that never happened.” It’s a dense, lyrical statement about our shared desire for, if not utopia, a space where we could explore our human potential, and embrace our desires without having them appropriated by capital and sold back to us in warped form.

The majority of Life Story’s visual track gives us a montage portrait of Wark, an exploration of her naked body. In its grace and delicacy, Rovinelli’s photography of Wark recalls the mosaic images of the late John Coplans, which also consider the aesthetic as well as the erotic dimensions of the flesh in later life. The film concludes by showing Wark and her partner Julie Wernersbach going about their morning routine, making tea and a snack. On the one hand, Life Story’s depiction of the ordinary serves to ground Wark’s complex theoretical discourse. But embodiment is at the heart of all of Wark’s writing, and Rovinelli’s film literalizes this corporeality. The body, after all, can be theorized, but it not theoretical. It’s a beautiful fact.

Published as part of FIDMarseille 2024 — Dispatch 1.