Outlandish: Strange Foreign Bodies
Phillip Warnell, UK, 2009, 35mm on digital, 20mins
'a dance of language, mute animal and philosopher's body' Jean-Pierre Rehm

Screening at a hommage to Jean-Luc Nancy at FID Marseille in October 2021

frieze review

cuttlefish revolution
Filipa Ramos

Outlandish is in exhibition at the Art Encounters Biennial, Romania, part of ‘Landscape in a Convex Mirror’ curated by Mihnea Mircan, during October 2021

'strange foreign bodies' exhibition in glasgow

Phillip Warnell’s video Outlandish: Strange Foreign Bodies (2009), for example, featured a performance by Jean-Luc Nancy, who read from his essay ‘L’Intrus’ (‘The Intruder’), reflecting on his own heart-transplant, his subsequent treatment for cancer, and philosophical concepts of the foreign. The other main performer was an octopus that pushed against the walls of a glass tank half-filled with water, carried upon the open deck of an otherwise deserted small boat at sea. Interweaving close-ups of Nancy in his office, manipulating a Moebius strip made from paper, with scenes of a living organ being manipulated by surgeons, and shots of the boat at sea, Outlandish offered a haptic, vivid exploration of boundaries - as a more-than-human protagonist, the octopus-organ occupied the physical heart of the gallery space...

Maeve Connolly, Exhibiting the End: Curatorial Scenarios of Burial, Contagion and Extinction. Review of Breathcrystal exhibition, Project Art Space, Dublin, 2017.

‘Now the camera plunges into the water and captures the translucent spume and the ripples of light dancing on the surface – the world has become an aquacade, the eye a prancing squid. The skiff lumbers across the frame on its directionless journey. Is this being-in-the world, or possibly being- in-the-sea? Is this the ‘outside’? Nancy sums up the mystery beautifully: ‘It is east and west, zenith and nadir, sharing and crossing, regions of air, a stranger to end in the world whose secret it takes with it – each body coiled up, deployed in world secret.’ Despite its heavy intertextuality, Outlandish remains a fundamentally sensorial experience, attuned to the in nitesimal modulations in atmosphere, which the body, infnitely turned toward the outside – and thus being – encounters infnitely. It is, simultaneously, a loving portrait of France’s most perceptive, most sensitive philosopher, whose world, or worlding – used in the Heideggerian sense – is a torrent of creativity, ecstasy and Étranges. That Warnell is able to descend artfully into both corpuses makes him one of the fearless divers of the deep.’ Frieze, 2011

‘In a sense, Outlandish functions as a filmic treatise on the body of the philosopher, as performing and speaking subject, assemblage of organs and corpus of thought. Significantly, both the film and accompanying text ‘Strange Foreign Bodies’ bear the philosopher’s signature, so constituting part of his authorised output. But rather than reiterating established authorial boundaries, Outlandish draws attention to the indeterminacy of any such corpus, since the written text is wholly entangled with the film as both by-product and script’ - Maeve Connolly.

the intimate urgency of an encounter between filmmaker Phillip Warnell and philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, whose experience of a heart transplant breached his sense of an interior space, of anything that could be held as “one’s own" - Mihnea Mircan

“One highlight is certainly Phillip Warnell’s short film Outlandish: Strange Foreign Bodies, inspired by philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s essay The Intruder, a reflection on his drastic experiences as a heart-transplant recipient and a cancer patient. Nancy features in the film, reading from a jointly written script that muses on the nature and integrity of the body, which he’s exceptionally well qualified to discuss.”
Irish Times, May 2015

Philosopher and heart transplant recipient Jean-Luc Nancy meditates on the history and integrity of bodies. A number of visual and literary passages explore the correlate between a textual narrative specially written for the film, étranges corps etrangers, his on screen presence, a surgical organ in search of a body and an unaccounted for, displaced invertebrate at sea. The eight episodes form am odyssey featuring a cephalopod on an otherwise uninhabited ship. A harvested organ, procured, sutured and in preparation for grafting evokes the more extensive, elusive search for the soul. Outlandish is a journey between shores and environments, the touching of and proximity between bodies, the vanishing and appearance of crew, permutations and dimensions of form and above all, our relations with strange foreign bodies.

Outlandish has been purchased for the permanent collection of the Hunterian Contemporary Art collection at Glasgow University in 2019.

Selected recent screenings and exhibitions:

Pompidou Centre, Paris
Jean-Luc Nancy book launch, Vienna (tbc)
Strange Foreign Bodies (exhibition) Glasgow, Sept-Dec
Harvard Film Archive, May
Visions experimental film centre, Montreal
Box with the sound of its own making (exhibition) Bucharest Romania Nov-Dec
'The Animal Mirror' Cassis cinema, France
DAI Art School, Netherlands
FICIC Argentina
Glasgow School of Art
Hocus Focus Berlin
Tate Modern London
Breathcrystal (exhibition) Project Arts Centre, Dublin
Conference on Jean-Luc Nancy Athens
Allegories for a Cave Painting (exhibition) Extra-City Antwerp
Leipzig Cinematheque
Vdrome online
Kosmorama Trondheim
Falling Through the Cracks (exhibition) LALD Italy
FNC Montreal
Art Verona Italy
MOMI New York
A thing for a thing, ICA London, curated screening
Philosopher's Night Cine Lumiere London
Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum Vietnam, curated screening
LOOP Barcelona, curated solo screening/panel
The South London Gallery London (UK premiere)
IDFF Perm Russia
Reel Screen Beirut
Rencontres Internationales Berlin, Paris and Madrid
Monokl conference on Jean-Luc Nancy, Istanbul
FID Marseille
Transplantations, Kings College London
Strange familiarity, familiar strangeness (exhibition) Marseille
CPH-Dox Copenhagen
Jean-Pierre Rehm (FID Marseille) on the film FID

papers and reviews:
Georgina Evans: Framing Aquatic Life 2020 - published in Screen Journal (Oxford) Screen
Jessica Barnfeld: Being is an Octopus. On 'Outlandish' and Jean Painleve's 'The Love Life of the Octopus', published in Harts and Minds journal, on haptic cinema 2016

Harts and Minds: Haptic Cinema

'Writing in the place of the Animal', Phillip Warnell, pending publication in 'Nancy and Visual Culture', Edinburgh University Press 2016
Fluid subjects and foreign bodies, on Outlandish: strange foreign bodies. Maeve Connolly, Film and Philosophy conference, Amsterdam, 2013
The Philosopher's Body: on Outlandish: strange foreign bodies. Maeve Connolly: vdrome online presentation, 2014
The Sea with Corners: Phillip Warnell, published in an artists' edition: 'Outlandish: Phillip Warnell & Jean-Luc Nancy'
Erik Morse: Frieze magazine review