In many of Farocki’s productions war is the central subject. Before Your Eyes Vietnam (1982) explores the possibilities of fiction in a dialectic reflection between two main characters which happens in an exploration of the images when there is no responsibility whatsoever metaphorical possibilities of the language of imin the glance, nor any reaction to these images. ages and the demanding clarity of the language The discrepancy between the self-representation of words. Images of the World and the Inscription of War (1988), an extraordinary essay made with of power and what lies behind its image represents the chore of The Leading Role (1994), photos taken by the American Air Force to prove where the nationalistic pride of Communist Gerthe existence of Auschwitz, evokes parallelisms to many is mocked as the viewer knows that country the world —the worlds— of our current surroundings. The intention is to suggest the cynicism of was just about to collapse. In Respite (2007), Farocki gives new life to archive material using an institutional film which recorded the functionality of the Westerbork forced-labor camp after it had already stopped being a temporary site for Dutch Jews before their deportation. However, under Farocki’s glance, this film becomes a dispositive for the evocation of the Nazi extermination machine in other camps which were also presented as harmless. The film stock, which shows the deterioration of time, presents a denunciation aimed to reactivate memory. 270
In over 90 films made by Farocki, the perception of images and the underlying truth that is veiled by them are part of his research. Farocki establishes a direct relation between military strategy and industrial production and suggests that our model of consumption is an accomplice of war conflicts, as in War at a Distance (2003). Technology and computer-produced images have modified our perception of war since the Gulf War in 1991; these images have made our perception to go beyond the anthropomorphic dimension and have dehumanized war.
This leads us to another of this director’s favorite themes: the pressure exerted by the mode of production over our contemporary post-industrial epoch. In Nothing Ventured (2004) the consumer is a pawn in a system played by bankers and industrialists. In A Day in the Life of a Consumer (1993) he goes one step beyond: space is the dispositive for a manipulation which transforms people into costumers and pretends to guide their movements. That is a subject he has used over again throughout the years, since The Creators of Shopping Worlds (2001) to A New Product (2012); in his film In Comparison (2002) bricks are the pieces which build spaces designed to share time with others, to work or to spend moments of leisure; and as we embark in a journey through different cultures, the sound of bricks is the sound of organized society. In Indoctrination (1987) we see a society which In The Appearance (1996) Farocki penetrates into a world govmixes psychology with capitalism and demands a “preparaerned by the rules of marketing in which bodies and persons are seen as objects, just as we see in a revealing photo session for tion” for life so executives can the Playboy magazine in An Image (1983), or in the journey into sell themselves better; or simply pornography seen through fiction in As You See (1986). Farocki’s to find a job, as in The Interview (1997). In Prison Images clever irony is also present in the evolution of modern photography shown in Still Life (1997), where contemporary commodities sub(2000) we see spaces which stitute the figurative elements of this 17th-century pictorial tradition. are a guide and where cameras exist for surveillance purposes. Another essential film presented in this retrospective is Workers Leaving the Factory, which in its museum version is a piece which expands in multiple channels. Farocki offers an explicit tribute to the work of the Lumière brothers and to their homonymous film which shows workers coming out a factory in Lyon; here, Farocki also makes a revision of cinema’s history —from Fritz Lang to Pier Paolo Pasolini— using labor as his leitmotif. In The Expression of Hands (1997), Farocki gets closer again, as a filmmaker, to a philosophical reflection on the 20th century and uses images to underline the value of the political gesture, the intensity of passion seen through the repetition of movements —as the film runs— and the transformation of codes through time. As Thomas Elsaesser sensed, Farocki’s work is an Atlas Mnemosyne made with fragments of movements. Elsaesser also perceived a link between the perception of this German director and the work of German philosopher Aby Warbur. Farocki’s work is an utopian atlas of the forces of change in historical reality, as shown in Videograms of a Revolution (1992), a documentary made together with Andrei Ujica parting from 125 hours of amateur stock about Rumanian revolution. Eva Sangiorgi
TERRITORIOS: HARUN FAROCKI
Farocki The relationship established with Straub, who was his prowants to awake consciousness, fessor, is evident in another film presented as part of this to provoke a reflection retrospective; Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at ~ Work on Franz Kafka’s “Amerika” (1983), which is a tribute and a portrait at the same time. This heritage spreads throughout all of Farocki’s work, as can be confirmed by the subtle didactic clarity of his films and the responsibility he assumes as an artist. Between Two Wars (1978) is actually an essay on creation and production. During the time period between the two world wars, industrial production grew relentlessly, creating a monstrous system which accumulated so much pressure it deliberately destroyed the society it had created.
Catálogo de la cuarta edición del Festival Internacional de Cine UNAM.