September 2017, arsenal cinema

Harun Farocki: Year by Year / Side by Side (1)

Three years after Harun Farocki's sudden death in 2014, the multifaceted nature and consistency of his pioneering oeuvre, which spanned almost 50 years, are all the more apparent. Between 1966, when he started studying at the newly-founded Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (dffb), and 2013, Farocki made several cinema works and television programs. He also wrote pertinent and often polemical texts of film criticism, as well as teaching at a series of universities, film and art schools. From the 1990s onwards, he gained acknowledgement in increasingly wider circles and was perceived above all as an installation artist and visual theorist. His works understand themselves explicitly as theory, critiques and politics of different types of image, but they also offer examples of precise analysis of work processes in an era when production and seeing are becoming increasingly mechanized. The breadth of Farocki's oeuvre ranges from agitprop, pamphlet-esque films, to self-reflexive, associative and open forms as well as to more reserved, patient observation studies. "Year by Year / Side by Side" is the most comprehensive retrospective of Harun Farocki's work to date. Alongside the exhibition "Harun Farocki: Mit anderen Mitteln – By Other Means" (curated by Antje Ehmann and Carlos Guerra) at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, the temporary "Farocki Now" academy organized by the Harun Farocki Institut at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the silent green Kulturquartier and the publication of his incomplete autobiography, the program will give audiences a chance to become acquainted, or reacquainted, with Farocki's oeuvre and all its nuances. This program will continue in October and November.

For the occasion, several works that were thought lost and others which have only rarely been screened were dug up in various archives. Some, such as Irena Vrkljan's FAROQHI DREHT (1967), have never been screened. The retrospective proposes two ways (an allusion to the title of Farocki's first film "Zwei Wege") of exploring this oeuvre. In the "Year after Year" section, all cinema and TV programs that are currently available can be seen in the same chronological order in which Farocki made them. This section concentrates on the films themselves and eschews a framework featuring discussions or introductions. It not only illustrates Farocki's astonishing productivity - he was always able to capitalize on what seemed like poor production possibilities and occasions and integrate them into long-term projects, which he followed up on persistently. The section also reveals unexpected relationships in the production chronology. A parallel section called Side by Side, (whose German title refers to an exhibition entitled "Nebeneinander") sheds light on the context and specific references of an oeuvre that spanned almost 50 years. Side by side can mean early works side by side with later ones, seemingly casual works next to key cinematic works or films on a common theme made at different times. The section also shows how closely Farocki's practices were inter-connected. His writings, radio works, TV programs and cinema films created what he described in 1975 as a "Verbundsystem" (connecting or synergy system). The retrospective will be accompanied by discussions with colleagues and friends of Farocki.

Opening: Early films, 1966–1969 Harun Farocki's early films kick off the retrospective. Apart from a short TV film made for the Freies Berlin channel - ZWEI WEGE (1966) – the program includes all the still existing works that he made at the "Deutsche Film und Fernsehakademie Berlin" (dffb), which was founded in 1966 and to whose first year he belonged. In its exploration of beer advertising, JEDER EIN BERLINER KINDL (1966) hints at the visual criticism of his later works while his interest in politics and playful intervention come to the fore in DER WAHLHELFER (1967) and DIE WORTE DES VORSITZENDEN (1967). FAROQHI DREHT (1967) offers an insight into his working methods during this time. Irena Vrkljan, who was also a student in the dffb's first year, accompanied the shoot for DER WAHLHELFER. In IHRE ZEITUNGEN (1968) and his short film WHITE CHRISTMAS (1968), both agitprop films that were made for political purposes, Farocki reacted in a very direct way to the key political events of 1968 - the anti-Springer campaign and the excesses of US violence in Vietnam. In November 1968, the dffb dismissed Farocki and some of his co-students. Thanks to funding from the WDR, he was still able to make his film NICHT LÖSCHBARES FEUER (1969) which went on to become one of the most important films of the anti-Vietnam War movement, with its exemplary examination of napalm production and a campaign on the part of a filmmaker that remains impressive. (On 15.9. our guests will be Tom Holert, Doreen Mende, Volker Pantenburg)

Year after Year: 19661981

DIE TEILUNG ALLE TAGE (The Division of all Days, with Hartmut Bitomsky, 1970, 16.9.) This educational film about the political economy sheds light on the mechanisms of exploitation in capitalism. A worker on the conveyor belt at a lightbulb factory makes a profit for the factory owner: "We're creating wealth" . "But it is his wealth." The model situations are staged in a Brechtian manner and after the screenings Farocki discusses the film in classes and "red cells".

EINE SACHE, DIE SICH VERSTEHT (15x) (Something Self Explanatory (15x), with Hartmut Bitomsky, 1971, 16.9.) Another educational film which explains Marxist theory in short episodes. The aim was "to introduce the process of understanding the theory of value of work and the law of values, alienation and fetish", using terms such as "use value, barter value and labor as a commodity" and visualizing them in acted scenes and  explaining them in question-and-answer games.

AUVICO-SPOTS (with Hartmut Bitomsky, 1970, 17.9.) With their "audiovisual codes" (AUVICO for short), Bitomsky and Farocki conceived a multi-episodic didactic series to teach the conventions and codes of film language. They pursued their idea of knowledge production by creating individual contexts and corresponding processes of cognition. In the end, the series was not made. Two of the prototype spots are are being screened for the first time.

REMEMBER TOMORROW IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE (1972, 17.9.) This road movie, a TV commission about the American Forces Network (AFN), shows Farocki at the wheel of a Citroën DS. The trip takes him through empty side streets from the AFN studio in Berlin past elevated railways to the forest and to the highway at night. It ends in front of a US base. An emphatically factual commentary contrasts with pop songs that are played in "heavy rotation".

DIE SPRACHE DER REVOLUTION. BEISPIELE REVOLUTIONÄRE RHETORIK, UNTERSUCHT VON HANS CHRISTIAN BUCH (The Language of Revolution. Examples of a Revolutionary Rhetoric, examined by Hans Christoph Buch, 1972, 17.9.) A film essay about revolutionary language based on excerpts from speeches by the French revolutionaries Danton and Saint-Just, as well as those of Fidel Castro, Malcolm X, Lenin and Rudi Dutschke.

SESAME STREET: BAGGERLIED; CONTAINER, DOCK, DER WEG DES GELDES, HAMMER, SÄGEN (1973, 17.9.) In 1973, Farocki made several episodes for Sesame Street in which he started out with what was experienceable and concrete, essentially focussing on objects of children's reality - tools, means of transport.

MAKE UP (1973, 17.9.) "The make-up artist Serge Lutens is shown covering a model's face with powder then working it into her face over several minutes. The face becomes a canvas, primed for painting. Flesh is turned into something different, looking like marble." (HaF)

BRUNNER IST DRAN (Brunner is Next, 1973, 17.9.) Farocki was commissioned by the SFB to shoot a short film based on Charles Baudelaire's prose poem "Le mauvais vitrier". Instead he made a film about a worker blackmailed by his boss.

EINMAL WIRST DU MICH LIEBEN. ÜBER DIE BEDEUTUNG VON HEFTROMANEN (Someday you will love me too. About the Meaning of Dimestore Novels, with Hartmut Bitomsky, 1973, 17.9.) The film tells two kinds of stories, which each have their own aesthetic form - events from the lives of people one could describe as readers of dime novels (manual laborers and factory workers) and stories from a dime novel.

DER ÄRGER MIT DEN BILDERN. EINE TELEKRITIK VON HARUN FAROCKI  (The Trouble with Images. A Critique of Television, 1973, 21.9.) A critique of television features in which "the noise of the commentary prevents perception" and random images are allocated a role of illustration. "I want to demonstrate that most feature films are of the sort that make people lose their interest and appetite for the real world". (HaF)

MODERATOREN IM FERNSEHEN (Moderators, 1974, 21.9.) "A contribution examining the methods television presenters use to link from one item to the next and thus to prove the evidence of the previous item, the following item, all the items, themselves etc." (HaF) The film was supposed to be part of WDR's "Telekritik" series but was never broadcast.

DIE ARBEIT MIT BILDERN. EINE TELEKRITIK VON HARUN FAROCKI (The Struggle with Images. A Critique of Television, 1974, 22.9.) An examination of the images used in television information broadcasting. Using concrete examples, Farocki shows how distant the world of television is from reality, the lack of curiosity and care in the use of images and sounds and the poverty of the filmic language.

ÜBER "SONG OF CEYLON" VON BASIL WRIGHT (About "Song of Ceylon" by Basil Wright, 1975, 22.9.) In a contribution for the TV series "Telekritik", Farocki showed and commented extracts from Basil Wright's Song of Ceylon (GB 1934), going back into film history to create models for another way of depicting reality.

ERZÄHLEN (About Narration, with Ingemo Engström, 1975, 22.9.) "A programme in which the work of authorship takes place." Ideas about filmic narration crystalize in discussions between the three protagonists (Ingemo Engström, Harun Farocki, Hanns Zischler).

DIE SCHLACHT. SZENEN AUS DEUTSCHLAND (The Battle. Scenes from Germany, with Hanns Zischler, 1976, 22.9.) In 1976, Harun Farocki and Hanns Zischler directed Heiner Müller's theater play "The Battle" at the Stadttheater Basel. It was also filmed for television. EINSCHLAFGESCHICHTEN (Bed Time Stories, BRD 1976/77, 24.9.) At the center of two television shorts are two girls (Farocki's daughters) who fill the time before bed by using their imagination.

EIN BILD VON SARAH SCHUMANN (An Image by Sarah Schumann, 1978, 24.9.) shows how a picture by the painter Sarah Schumann takes shape over a period of nine weeks. The film was made for the WDR series "Kunstgeschichten".

The radio play DAS GROSSE VERBINDUNGSROHR (1976, 24.9.) resulted from the research for ZWISCHEN DEN KRIEGEN (Between the Wars, 1978). A montage of original quotes narrates the invention of the connecting tube in the 1920s to introduce energy freed by steel production back into the production process - a method that Farocki applied to his own working processes.

INDUSTRIE UND FOTOGRAPHIE (Industry and Photography, 1979, 24.9.) was also the result of work on ZWISCHEN DEN KRIEGEN using the images and recordings for a reflection on image and representation as well as on the use of private and commercial images.

ZWISCHEN DEN KRIEGEN (Between the Wars, 1978, 26.9.) This was perhaps Farocki's most important film in the 1970s. It took six years to make. It examines the development of heavy industry between 1917 and 1933 and the economic causes of fascism, as well as the filmmakers' own working conditions.

SINGLE. EINE SCHALLPLATTE WIRD PRODUZIERT (Single. A Record is Being Produced, 1979, 28.9.) Farocki observes and documents the recording of a three-minute-long pop song in a record studio. His interest in work processes is directed at the culture industry, in which music production is understood as a process based on the division of labor.

ZUR ANSICHT: PETER WEISS (On Display: Peter Weiss, 1979, 28.9.) "We were visiting Peter Weiss in Stockholm on 17th and 18th June 1979. We talked about his work on the book The Aesthetics of Resistance. Weiss has performed an unbelievable amount of research, studied the lives of people serving as models down to the tiniest detail, and attaches great importance to visiting the scenes of the action. The film gives an impression of his work." (HaF)

DER GESCHMACK DES LEBENS (The Taste of Life, 1979, 30.9.) Impressions of a Berlin summer, fleeting, unintentional sketches of daily life. "For two and a half weeks, I walked around different parts of the city with my camera and collected images for the film." (HaF)

STADTBILD (View of the City, 1981, 30.9.) For this television report, Farocki explored the relationship between old and new architecture in post-war Germany. He showed photographs of Berlin's architecture, speaking with local historians and historians of architecture, as well as photographers and writers.

Side by side: A lexicon of filmic expression

The first three programs of the "Side by Side" section reconstruct some of Farocki's interests in the 1970s. They focus particularly on his exploration of artistic and literary works. They also show how regularly he worked with the WDR, particularly with the film department and editors such as Werner Dütsch, but also with the channel's other departments.

Berlin, 1978/79: Two times West Berlin, second half of the 1970s. A patient observation of the work processes of the painter Sarah Schumann, who composes her works layer by layer. The painter herself will introduce the film alongside the artist and musician Michaela Melián (FSK), who rediscovered EIN BILD VON SARAH SCHUMANN (An Image by Sarah Schumann, 1978) a few years ago. Besides: Views from the window, random daily insights into a Berlin summer, scenes in the park - DER GESCHMACK DES LEBENS (1979). (The Taste of Life, 16.9., guests: Sarah Schumann and Michaela Melián)

Die Arbeit der Autorschaft/The work of authorship: ERZÄHLEN (About Narration, 1975) was made with the filmmaker Ingemo Engström and initially described as a "filmessai". It will be screened alongside two of Farocki's films for children's TV. It is about two researchers, played by Engström and Farocki, who are looking for a form for their research and reflecting upon the structures of narration, supported by Hanns Zischler. (16.9., guests: Hanns Zischler and Ingemo Engström)

Farocki/Weiss: Farocki was fascinated and impressed by Peter Weiss' book "The Aesthetics of Resistance". He visited him in Stockholm after the second volume was published. The program ZUR ANSICHT: PETER WEISS (1979) was retrieved from WDR's archive a few years ago thanks to the Catalan director Carlos Guerra's research. It will be shown alongside a video discussion Guerra held with Farocki about Peter Weiss in 2011. (17.9., guest: Carlos Guerra)

Surveillance and consulting: The discussion HORST GROTHUS. UNTERNEHMENSBERATER (1975), which was made for WDR radio, is a clear example of how early Farocki became interested in questions around organizing and optimizing labor. The measuring and quantification of work processes that Farocki discusses with the author of "Motiviert, engagiert, produktiv" (1972) and "Die totale vorbeugende Instandhaltung" (1974) went on to play an important role 40 years later in EIN NEUES PRODUKT (A New Product, 2012), an observation of Quickborn Team consultants at work. (19.9. guests: Nina Möntmann und Sabeth Buchmann)

Image treasure trove (1): Back in the 1970s, Farocki had envisaged a "library of images" that would be organized like a public library and would make available documentary material as "visual prints". In the 1990s, he returned to this idea and made three films dedicated to it. In ARBEITER VERLASSEN DIE FABRIK (Workers Leaving the Factory, 1995), he traces the use of one of cinema's first topoi, the factory gate, throughout film history. With academics specialized in the media, he sought hermeneutic processes or technical processes based on algorithms for sorting and addressing images. Alongside DER AUSDRUCK DER HÄNDE (The Expression of Hands, 1997), the film forms an entry in the fictional dictionary of filmic prints. Jörg Becker worked closely with Farocki on both films and has since continued the research into filmic topoi and their description in texts. (20.9., guests: Michael Baute und Jörg Becker)

Image treasure trove (2): GEFÄNGNIS BILDER (Prison Images, 2000) is another component in an archive that would be dedicated to "filmic prints" and their iconography, economics and politics. Both early films find themselves here again: The prison gate recalls the factory gate and the prisoners are taught discipline through manual labor that is supposed to improve them morally. Farocki was taken by Michele Mancini and Giuseppe Perrella's "Pier Paolo Pasolini: Corpi e luoghi", which uses the Italian filmmaker's films like an "image bank" in a similar way and organizes them according to motifs. They categorized an inordinate amount of pictures from his films according to similarity and difference. Benedikt Reichenbach, who edited "Harun Farocki: Diagrams" has since re-edited "Corpi e Luoghi" and will talk about Farocki, Pasolini and the diagrammatic image (20.9., guests: Volker Pantenburg and Benedikt Reichenbach).

Farocki/Müller: In the early 1980s, Farocki published a lengthy discussion that he had had with Heiner Müller in the magazine "Filmkritik". What is hardly known is that part of this discussion was broadcast in 1981 in the television program "Kino '81". What is even less known is the television version of the production of Müller's play "DIE SCHLACHT, SZENEN AUS DEUTSCHLAND (1976) that Farocki and Hanns Zischler directed in Basel at the Theaterbühne in the same year. Both films will be presented alongside DIE HAMLETMASCHINE (1978), a joint radio production by Müller and Farocki, to discuss the Farocki/Müller duo and Farocki's continued interest in the developments in the GDR. (23.9., guests: Thomas Heise and Jan Ralske)

Constructed spaces: Farocki's portrait of the architecture practice Sauerbruch/Hutton (2013) was not the first of his works to explore his interest in how a constructed space and the filmic image can influence and alter each other. STADTBILD (1981) and INDUSTRIE UND FOTOGRAPHIE (1979) shed light on the relationship between urban and industrial constructions and their depiction in photography. (27.9., guest: Wilfried Kühn)

Alphabetization of the gaze: Almost all of Farocki's films can be considered as pleas and appeals to read images precisely and to distrust their rhetorical use. The WDR program "Telekritik" (Editor: Angelika Wittlich) had the explicit task of formulating a critique of television within the medium itself. In DIE ARBEIT MIT BILDERN (1974) Farocki examined existing features and the "shunning of reality" (Farocki), which were practiced in them. In ÜBER "SONG OF CEYLON" VON BASIL WRIGHT (1975) the British 1934 film became an example of successful documentary practice. Precise observation of details were an effective measure for the alphabetization of the gaze. (29.9., guests: Michael Baute und Stefan Pethke) (al/vp)

The Harun Farocki program will be continued in October and November. It is part of the Harun Farocki Retrospective, a neuer berliner kunstverein (n.b.k.) project in cooperation with Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art, theHarun Farocki Institut, the Harun Farocki GbR, the silent green Kulturquartier, the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Savvy Contemporary and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt as part of Berlin Art Week, supported by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe.

September '17