Nicole Wolf’s wide range of interests merge in thinking, writing, teaching and curating with political cinemas as modes of critical and productive relations. Anthropology, film studies, political science and postcolonial theory informed her academically and her extensive and continuing research in South Asia shaped her conceptual and activist queries towards documentary mode and experimental filmmaking.
Her earlier research focused on the entanglement of histories of feminist theory and practice with filmmaking practices in India which then expanded into a search for past and possible future internationalist film poetics, thinking from multiple histories of politically and aesthetically radical cinemas. Closely connected are her questions on how to narrate, witness and respond/ act responsibly to conflict whereby relations between the audio-visual and the constitution as well as critique of borders and militarised zones, such as Kashmir, have been central. Most recently her queries towards evidence narratives as interventionist practices and the politics and poetics of justice have led towards violations of human rights through destructions of land and ecological/cultural environments.
Wolf’s training in anthropology as critique to neo/colonialist forms of knowledge production, her passion for documentary film as proposing new radically democratic realities and her theoretical inquiries into how to be and act worldly, i.e. thinking relationality transculturally, transracial, transgender, transspecies, informs her current research into critical ecologies of knowledges.
Wolf is invested in exploring new forms of writing and making research public, she prefers working collaboratively and is invested in permaculture projects internationally.
- 2008 Doktor der Philosophie in Comparative Cultural and Social Anthropology at European University Viadrina
- 2003 Visiting PhD Scholar at Program Culture & Media and Theory & Politics at New York University
- 1996 Masters of Arts in Social Anthropology at School of Oriental and Africa Studies, University of London
Practical and political components are essential to all of my teaching which I approach as a meeting and exchange between equal intelligences for collective thinking and experimenting.
At present I coordinate and co-teach the Visual Cultures PhD and MRes program.
In addition I one of the following modules (depending on annual arrangements): the 10-week module ‘Film Fables’ or ‘Documentary Lives – Climate, Justice and Planetary Cinema’ (BA Level 3) or 'Dissonant Images. Questions of Evidence' (MA Special Subject).
I have in the past taught ‘Modernities’ (BA Level 1), ‘The Moving Image’ (BA Level 2), ‘Images in Conflict’ (BA Level 3), ‘Visual Cultures as Public Practice – a placement module’ (BA Level 3) and I was one of the lecturers on the former MA ‘Global Arts’.
Areas of supervision
I have supervised PhD projects on essay filmmaking in Turkey, documentary works and Derrida’s hospitality, Japanese cinema, dance as community building and bodily intervention, art and translation theory, the precariat/ precarious and the material politics of images.
I welcome dissertation proposals on any aspect of historical and contemporary political cinemas, on relations between radicality, transformation and the moving image, specifically in documentary and experimental modes, on new political and poetic alliances, on relations between humanitarian and environmental conflict, critical ecologies, cultural productions and diverse publics. I enjoy working with and encourage applications for practice-based research projects.
I am currently a research participant of ‘Archive außer sich’ (a project of Arsenal. Institute of Film and Video Art in cooperation with House of World Cultures, Berlin; 2017-2020) and co-curator of Archival Constellations, a one-day symposium taking place yearly as part of Forum Expanded, Berlin Film Festival). Since 2017 I am a member of ‘Film Feld Forschung’ based at Silent Green Kulturquartier (Berlin), at present working towards an exhibition and a series of workshops exploring metabolisms and soil as archive.
I completed a permaculture certificate in 2014 and two permaculture teacher trainings in 2017, one in Italy with Alfred Decker and Anna Batoli and one in Srinagar (Kashmir) with Rosemary Morrow.
As participant of “Living Archive. Archive Work as a Contemporary Artistic and Curatorial Practice” (2011-2013) at Arsenal. Institute for Film and Video Art, Wolf edited the DVD:
- Kya Hua is Shahar Ko? / What has happened to this city? History, Context and Reflections on Re-screening a Political Film. 24 page Essay and video interviews for DVD edition of Kya Hua is Shahar Ko? (D: Deepa Dhanraj, India 1986). Released by Filmgalerie 451, Berlin 2013.
- The restoration and digitalisation as well as extensive research on India’s first feminist film collective Yugantars’ film work (1980-83) is due to be completed in 2019.
Between 2008 and 2011 I have completed a series of research led film curatorial projects under the title “The Political and its public: South Asian documentary practices”, including "Moving Politics. Cinemas from India" (co-curated with Dorothee Wenner; invited by Deutsche Guggenheim and Arsenal. Institute for film and video art, Berlin, 2010), "Persistence Resistance. Documentary practices from India" (co-curated with Gargi Sen, a one week film festival bringing "Persistence Resistance" from Delhi to London, 2011) and "No Man's Land/ Everybody's Land", a film program that travelled with Green Cardamom's research and exhibition project "Lines of Control". The latter interrogated constructions of borders, ongoing partitions and conflicts and forms of occupation through ways of cinematic narrating, tackling hegemonic presentations of violence and crises. It was presented in London, at Cornell University and in Karachi.
I am also a liaison tutor for Lasalle College of the Arts (Singapore).
- “Thinking between day and night or for those awake at dawn”, lead article in Art India, Special issue on Documentary, Abhay Sardesai (ed), Mumbai, Volume 1, 2014. Pp. 24-33.
- Affiliating myself with materialities. Reflections on Vulnerability and Agency in Political Still and Moving Image Archives. Keynote/ Public Lecture for ‘Framing, Compiling, Sampling: Sensory Practices in Cultural Analysis,’ conference organized by Cultural Studies and European Anthropology, University of Basel, 23.-25. April 2015
- Documentary’s Promise of the New, Keynote for New York University conference “New South Asian Documentary,” 25.-27. September 2014
- “I am the very beautiful city. Conversations with Bombay, documented”. In: Koushik Bhaumik, Madhusree Dutta & Rohan Shivkumar (eds.) Project Cinema City. Delhi: Tullika Press. 2013. Pp. 351-363. ISBN: 978-93-82381-22-8.
- “Indian Documentary Studies: Contours of a Field”, Special Issue of Bioscope. South Asian Screen Studies, Volume 3, Number 1, January 2012. Co-edited with Bhaskar Sarkar. (Introduction with Bhaskar Sarkar, pp.1-6). Print ISSN: 0974-9276, Online ISSN: 0976-352
Recent film reviews:
My research interests merge in writing, teaching and curating with political cinemas as modes of critical relations and acts of world forming. Anthropology, film, feminist, postcolonial and critical theory has informed me academically and my extensive and continuing research in South Asia has shaped my conceptual and activist queries towards the potential of documentary mode and experimental filmmaking.
My earlier research concentrated on the entanglement of histories of feminist theory and movement building with filmmaking practices in India which then expanded into a search for past and possible future internationalist film poetics, thinking from multiple histories of politically and aesthetically radical cinemas. Closely connected are my questions on how to narrate, witness and respond/ act responsibly to conflict whereby relations between the audio-visual and the constitution as well as critique of borders and militarised zones, such as Kashmir, have been central. Most recently my queries towards evidence narratives as interventionist practices and the politics and poetics of justice have led towards violations of human and species rights through destructions of land and ecological/cultural environments as well as to research into agricultural practices as modes of care, recuperation and resistance.
My training in anthropology as critique to neo/colonialist forms of knowledge production, my continuous believe in documentary film as proposing new radically democratic realities and my theoretical inquiries into how to be and act worldly, i.e. thinking relationality transculturally, transracial, transgender, transspecies, inspires my current research into critical ecologies, pluriverse knowledges and possible planetary cinemas.
I am invested in exploring new forms of writing and making research public and I enjoy working collaboratively. Following a permaculture certificate and permaculture teacher training I am invested in hands on permaculture projects internationally as well as in experimenting with permaculture principles for speculative pedagogies, arts and film practices.
Besides teaching I am currently a research participant of ‘Archive außer sich’ (a project of Arsenal. Institute of Film and Video Art in cooperation with House of World Cultures, Berlin) and a member of ‘Film Feld Forschung’ based at Silent Green Kulturquartier (Berlin), at present working towards an exhibition and a series of workshops exploring metabolisms and soil as archive. I am also editing a book on the moving image and literary works of Merle Kroeger and Philip Scheffner.
Publications and research outputs
Wolf, Nicole and Sarkar, Bhaskar, eds. 2012. "Indian Documentary Studies: Contours of a Field." Special Issue., Bioscope. South Asian Screen Studies, 3(1). 0974-9276
Sheikh, Shela; Gray, Ros; Wolf, Nicole; César, Filipa; Grisey, Raphaël and Touré, Bouba. 2018. Fugitive Remains: Soil, Celluloid and Resistant Collectivities. In: Cooking Sections, ed. The Empire Remains Shop. New York: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, pp. 209-223. ISBN 978-1-941332-37-5
Wolf, Nicole. 2013. Foundations, Movements and Dissonant Images: documentary film and its ambivalent relations to the nation state. In: K Moti Gokulsing and Wimal Dissanayake, eds. Routledge Handbook on Indian Cinema. London: Routledge, pp. 360-374. ISBN 978-0415677745
Wolf, Nicole. 2013. “Projecting Tambaku Chaakilo Oob Ali. Reflections towards a versatile archive of political cinemas”. In: Shveta Sarda, ed. sarai Reader 09: Projections. New Delhi: Raqs Media Collective, pp. 284-290.
Wolf, Nicole. 2013. Versatile Archives and cinematic friendships. In: Stefanie Schulte Strathaus and Ulrich Ziemons, eds. Living Archive – Archival Work as a Contemporary Artistic and Curatorial Practice. Berlin: Bbooks Verlag. ISBN 978-3-942214-14-8
Wolf, Nicole. 2012. I am the very beautiful city. Conversations with Bombay, documented. In: Madhusree Dutta; Rohan Shivkumar and Bhaumik Kaushik, eds. Cinema City. Chennai: Tulika Publishers. ISBN 978-8189487997
Wolf, Nicole and Heidenreich, N.. 2010. Conversations on locating conflict. In: Monica Narula; Shuddhaprata Sengupta and Jeebesh Bagchi, eds. sarai reader 08: Fear. 08 New Delhi: Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, pp. 91-98. ISBN 978-81-905853-2-3
Wolf, Nicole. 2008. “Away in Berlin – Really! Documentary-fictional Side Notes”. In: Stefanie Schulte Strathaus and Florian Wüst, eds. Who says concrete doesn’t burn, have you tried? West Berlin Film in the ’80s. Berlin: b-books, pp. 50-61. ISBN 978-3-933557-90-2
Wolf, Nicole. 2008. Lovers of Life for Heterogeneous Time. In: Jonathan Harris, ed. Identity Theft: Cultural Colonisation and contemporary Art. Liverpool: University of Liverpool and Critical Forum Tate Liverpool, pp. 159-174. ISBN 9781846311024
Wolf, Nicole. 2005. The import and export of knowledge in conversations or: where is my subject? In: Angelika Fitz; Merle Kroger; Alexandra Schneider and Dorothee Wenner, eds. Import / Export. Austria: Parthas Verlag, pp. 216-224. ISBN 978-3866019102
Wolf, Nicole. 2002. Portraits of Belonging’ - Eindrücke zu Repräsentationsspielräumen und Diskursen von unabhängigen Dokumentarfilmemacherinnen in Indien. In: , ed. Frauen und Film. Frankfurt/ Main: , pp. 99-114
Wolf, Nicole. 2019. In the Wake of Gujarat: The Social Relations of Translation and Futurity. Critical Studies, 4, pp. 97-113. ISSN 2055-141X
Wolf, Nicole. 2018. Is this just a story? Friendships and fictions for speculative alliances. The Yugantar film collective (1980-83). Moving Image Review & Art Journal, 7(2), pp. 252-266. ISSN 2045-6298
Wolf, Nicole. 2018. Metabolisms of the Feminist Archive and the Nowness of Yugantar (1980–83). Documentary Now, edited by Ravi Vasudevan, 70(1), pp. 42-49.
Wolf, Nicole. 2018. What Cinema, what alliances, Now? Nicole Wolf on Sohail Daulatzai's "Fifty Years of 'The Battle of Algiers': Past as Prologue". "Art without Rules", Texte zur Kunst, 28(109), pp. 146-149. ISSN 0940-9596
Wolf, Nicole. 2013. Kya Hua is Shahar Ko? / What has happened to this city? History, Context and Reflections on Re-screening a Political Film. Released by Filmgalerie 451, Berlin 2013,
Wolf, Nicole. 2003. Transitional Zones: Nicole Wolf Interviews Tejal Shah. n.paradoxa: International Feminist Art Journal, Issue: Out of Order, 12, pp. 59-67.
Conference or Workshop Item
Wolf, Nicole. 2017. ‘To make a film means to take a position’ (Sarah Maldoror). In: "Experimenta India", Bangalore, India, 29.11.-3.12.2017.
Wolf, Nicole. 2011. Persistence Resistance. Documentary Practices in India.. In: "Persistence Resistance. Documentary Practices in India.", London, United Kingdom.
Wolf, Nicole. 2009. No man’s land/ Everybody’s Land – Glaring in Defiance. In: "No Man's Land/ Everybody’s Land – Glaring in Defiance", Karachi, Pakistan, 30 January 2009 - 1 February 2009.