EMPATHY: PAIRING AND MIRRORING. A HUSSERLIAN INTERPRETATION OF KIAROSTAMI’S SHIRIN (2008)
It has always been a trademark of Abbas Kiarostami’s films that they required their audience to function as an active, constitutive part in their actual construction as such. This is all the more true in the case of Shirin (2008), since this picture also takes the situation of the audience as its explicit thematic object. Thus, the picture is not just, as it was often termed, a mere visual depiction of audience response to film, but instead – due to the way in which it challenges its own viewer – a complex interaction of empathetic engagements played out by its audience. The connections thus established between the real audience of the picture and the audience depicted in it, on the one hand, and between the depicted viewers and the characters of the film they see (and we only hear), on the other hand, constantly interfere. The present paper will address several of the empathetic effects triggered by this situation – the discomforting feeling the viewer at times gets, that he is mimicked by the depicted audience, the fact that the characters of the Shirin story (we do not see) are visually „contaminated” by the alternating faces of the depicted audience (we do see) etc. – interpreting them through the lenses of a husserlian concept: that of „pairing”, also understood as „overlaying in distance”, as this is discussed foremost in Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations (§51).
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