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Strangers Within: Lauren Elkin, Xiaolu Guo, Therese Henningsen and Andrea Luka Zimmerman

Strangers Within

Join Lauren Elkin, Xiaolu Guo, Therese Henningsen and Andrea Zimmerman as they discuss the art, philosophy and politics of encountering other people in documentary practice, on the page and screen.

'I am sure, now, that we learn even more about ourselves when we go out into the world than in the introspection of the private diary.' (Annie Ernaux in Journal de Dehors

Strangers Within (Prototype, 2022) is an anthology exploring the idea of documentary as encounter through essays, stories, interviews and other creative responses by filmmakers, artists and writers.

For this event we have invited Xiaolu Guo, Andrea Luka Zimmerman, Lauren Elkin and the book's co-editor Therese Henningsen, to reflect on the themes of the anthology in relation to their own work. Taking a cue from Nobel prize winning author Annie Ernaux’s diaristic encounters, they will discuss ways in which writers and filmmakers ‘document’ and record other people’s lives.

Strangers Within engages with the risks of encounter, unsettling assumptions about the distinctions between host and guest; stranger and friend; self and other; documentarian and protagonist. Including texts by Toni Morrison, Annie Ernaux, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and many more, the book is an essential study of the ways in which our encounters with strangers reflect back upon ourselves.

Find out more



Lauren Elkin

Lauren Elkin is a writer and translator, most recently the author of No. 91/92: a diary of a year on the bus and the UK translator of Simone de Beauvoir's previously unpublished novel The InseparablesFlâneuse: Women Walk the City was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Radio 4 Book of the Week. Her next book, Art Monsters: On Beauty and Excess, will be published in July. She is currently writing a biography of Gertrude Stein for Yale University Press, and a novel, Scaffolding.

Xiaolu Guo 

Xiaolu describes herself as a guerilla gardener, a peasant punk, an activist filmmaker, a zealous memoirist, a documentary novelist and a social Taoist. Growing up in southern China in an agricultural landscape, she has a deeply rooted connection with farmers, soil, plants, the ocean and nature in general. Since moving to Britain in 2002, after having lived in various European cities, she has published several award winning books and directed a dozen films. She is ceaselessly looking for new languages to express the relationship between human narratives and the inescapable laws of nature and cosmos. Radical is her most recent non-fiction.

Therese Henningsen

Therese Henningsen is a filmmaker and programmer based in London. Her films Slow Delay and Maintenancer (with Sidsel Meineche Hansen) have been shown at Chisenhale Gallery, Venice Biennale, Whitstable Biennale, Whitechapel Gallery, Close-Up Cinema, SMK Statens Museum for Kunst, Cryptofiction, Liberated Film Club, among others. In collaboration with Juliette Joffé, she has co-edited the recently launched interdisciplinary anthology Strangers Within: Documentary as Encounter, published by Prototype, and is working on a practice-led PhD in Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London, closely linked to the ideas addressed in the anthology.

Andrea Luka Zimmerman

Andrea Luka Zimmerman is a Jarman Award winning artist, filmmaker and cultural activist whose multi-layered practice calls for a profound re-imagining of the relationship between people, place and ecology. Films include the Artangel-produced 'Here for Life' (2019), which received its world premiere in the Cineasti Del Presente international competition of the Locarno Film Festival (winning a Special Mention), and 'Erase and Forget' (2017), premiering at the Berlin Film Festival (nominated for the Original Documentary Award), Selected exhibitions include 'Art Class' at METAL and LUX, 'Shelter in Place' at Estuary Festival, 'Civil Rites', the London Open, Whitechapel Gallery, 'Common Ground' at Spike Island, Bristol and 'Real Estates' at Peer Gallery.

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