58 min. 2021

Exposure and self-knowledge

Richard Shusterman, a world renowned American philosopher of aesthetics, who also happens to be a former officer of the Israeli Army, lectures around the world on his theory of somaesthetics in which the body is understood as a cognitive tool of perception.  We follow him presenting his ideas in Poland, Germany, France and Florida and leading a workshop in a university dance department.   

Shusterman tests the somaesthetics theory on himself.  In a performance art project (with photographer Yann Toma) he appears as The Man in Gold, a mysterious figure dressed in a golden body suit,  It’s a challenge for the usually composed philosopher.  He strives for self-knowledge but is also aware of the limits and dangers of the exposure.   

When I started working on this project (which is an extension of a three part educational video series “Philosophical Encounters with Richard Shusterman”) I was intrigued by Richard’s vulnerability combined with willingness to explore it.  It was an opportunity to explore the issues of how much truth is needed in life and philosophy, how difficult it is to “speak the truth”, what are the dangers of focusing on appearances and the dangers of dismissing them. 

The documentary also visits Shusterman’s relationship to his then 100-year old sharp and often critical father.  Dad, while impressed with Richard’s accomplishments, strongly disapproves of his explorations of less traditional philosophical subjects including “the art of eating”. 

Richard muses on a variety of topics including politics, Holocaust, freedom and the role of philosophy.  He occasionally finds himself in imagined situations that expand on his sensitivities and concerns.  One of them is “meeting” an early 20th-century handicapped Polish painter, Władysław Strzemiński, whose lack of an arm and a leg resonates with Richard’s exploration of the body as a tool of perception.    

Written/directed/edited by Paweł Kuczyński

Camera by Piotr Rejmer, Marcin Ściegliński, Paweł Kuczyński

Music by Lucas Janu

Delos Films production.