October 2017, arsenal cinema

Harun Farocki: Year by Year / Side by Side (2)

BILDER DER WELT UND INSCHRIFT DES KRIEGES, 1988

"Year by Year/Side by Side" is the most comprehensive retrospective of Harun Farocki’s cinema and television work ever held. 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 (October 18th-21st) and the recent publication of his incomplete autobiography "Zehn, zwanzig, dreißig, vierzig", the program gives audiences a chance to become acquainted, or reacquainted, with the documentarian’s oeuvre and all the many directions it points in. Numerous productions thought lost, or more or less invisible were able to be researched in archives and collected. We continue the series, that started last month, with numerous film screenings in October.

Year by year refers to the series of images on the film strip, to the progressive development of ideas over time that build on one another. The retrospective brings together 37 film programs that comprise all of Farocki’s cinema and television productions currently available in chronological order. Side by side refers to the simultaneous nature of images, which Farocki described as “soft montage” – the volatile, associative back and forth of the thought process. In these side by side programs, early works are placed alongside later ones; seemingly marginal works alongside key films. The series shows how closely Harocki’s different practices relate to and mutually influenced one another. Each program is accompanied by introductions or discussions with Farocki’s colleagues, friends, or co-workers. Dependent on the print situation, films shown more than once can often be seen both on analogue prints or in digitized form. The progressive digitization of his main works and film material documenting their production also invites audiences to discuss the possibilities of contemporary film archiving alongside the appraisal of his work.

YEAR BY YEAR: 1981–1992

OST-WEST: GESPRÄCH MIT HEINER MÜLLER (1981 | 21.10.) A section of a longer discussions that Farocki conducted with Heiner Müller for “Filmkritik” magazine that was broadcast on the television show “Kino 81”. 

ETWAS WIRD SICHTBAR (Before Your Eyes Vietnam, 1982, 21.10.) A couple, Anna und Robert, in Berlin, images of the war in the Vietnam, and the connection between them. “Farocki de- and reconstructs these images of the Vietnam war. On the one hand, Anna and Robert subject these images to a critical reappraisal. Yet on the other hand, he restages several of the most well-known images from Vietnam, thus enabling these images already reproduced a hundred times to be read and perceived anew.” (Tilman Baumgärtel)

RONNY UND HARUN SPIELEN THEATER (1982, 21.10.) A guerilla advertising campaign that entails Harun Farocki and actor Ronny Tanner acting out a short scene from ETWAS WIRD SICHTBAR in the foyer of the Delphi cinema in Berlin.

KURZFILME VON PETER WEISS. VORGESTELLT VON HARUN FAROCKI (Short Films by Peter Weiss, 1982, 21.10.) Harun Farocki shows short films by Peter Weiss and reads out his texts on the films in parallel by candlelight.

EIN BILD (An Image, 1983, 22.10.) documents the production of a pin-up image for “Playboy” at a photo studio without commentary. The naked model is draped over a pedestal, has her hair and make-up redone again and again; careful, concentrated work in order to create an illusion.

ARBEITEN ZU „KLASSENVERHÄLTNISSE“ (Jean-Marie Straub and Daniéle Huillet at Work on a Film based on Franz Kafka's "Amerika", 1983, 22.10.) An observation of directorial couple Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at work. A rehearsal with Farocki himself in the role of Delamarche in the form of an intensive engagement with the text.

ÜBER BRESSONS L’ARGENT ("L'Argent" by Bresson, with Hartmut Bitomsky and Manfred Blank, 1983 | 22.10.) Farocki gives a commentary on Robert Bresson’s Film L’argent together with other authors from “Filmkritik” magazine.

PETER LORRE – DAS DOPPELTE GESICHT (The Double Face of Peter Lorre, 1984, 22.10.) Taking Lorre’s face as his starting point, Farocki creates a precise analysis of Peter Lorre’s erratic career. By looking at photos and film excerpts, different thought processes are set in motion and his biography is traced from his origins in the theatre all the way to his emigration to the US and Hollywood career.

BETROGEN (Betrayed, 1985, 22.10.) is Farocki’s only feature. Inspired by a newspaper report, the film tells a story of disappointed love, fraud, and (self-)deception, the story of man who runs over his wife in a car and whose sister sees this as a chance to escape her own life and take her sister’s place.

FILMTIP: TEE IM HAREM DES ARCHIMEDES (Filmtip: Tea in the Harem, 1985, 25.10.) A short introduction and review of Mehdi Charef’s film.

FILMBÜCHER (Filmbooks, 1986, 25.10.) A review of film books old and new as a report for the television series Kino ’86.

WIE MAN SIEHT (As You See, 25.10.) Two motifs pervade the film: crossings and fabric. “It’s about paths crossings and a city being formed, about machine guns with a hand crank and machine guns with a heavy recoil, about laying out motorways in National Socialist Germany and West Germany, about designing streets and cutting up animals, about images of slaughter from above and below, about the birth of the calculator from the weaving mill.” (HaF)

SCHLAGWORTE – SCHLAGBILDER. EIN GESPRÄCH MIT VILÉM FLUSSER (Catch Phrases – Catch Images. A Conversation with Vilém Flusser, 1986, 26.10.)A conversation in a café between Farocki and Vilém Flusser about the design of the Bild Zeitung’s front page.

KUHLE WAMPE. Eine Einführung (1986, 26.10.) Farocki gives an introduction to Slatan Dudow’s film.

DIE SCHULUNG (Indoctrination, 1987, 26.10.) observes a seminar for executives. Sales statistics are transposed onto the individual; as body language, gestures, and facial expressions are practised, psychology and modern capitalism merge.

FILMTIP: DER TOD DES EMPEDOKLES (Filmtip: Death of Empedocles, 1987, 26.10.) Farocki talks to Andreas Rauch, who plays Empedokles in the film by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet.

DIE MENSCHEN STEHEN VORWÄRTS IN DEN STRASSEN (1987, 26.10.) A film based on the poem "Die Menschen stehen vorwärts in den Straßen" by Georg Heym (1911).

BILDERKRIEG (Images-War 1987, 26.10.) In this TV production, Farocki considers the meaning of the German word “Aufklärung” (reconnaissance/intelligence) in relation to military and police work. He traces the development of photographic methods which draw on reconnaissance of this kind and demonstrates their interpretational possibilities.

GEORG K. GLASER – SCHRIFTSTELLER UND SCHMIED (Georg K. Glaser – Writer and Smith, 1988, 26.10.) Harun Farocki found a successful combination of work both physical and mental – smithing and writing – in the Paris workshop of Georg Glaser, a “worker-writer”, who fled to France in 1933.

BILDER DER WELT UND INSCHRIFT DES KRIEGES (Images of the World and the Inscription of War, 1988, 27.10.) A reflection about the ambiguous concept of “Aufklärung” (enlightenment/intelligence), which Farocki approaches from various different perspectives, including the technologies that determine how we see and the conditions of perception.

KINOSTADT PARIS (Cine City Paris, with Manfred Blank, 1988, 28.10.) Farocki and Blank explore Paris as a city of cinema and images, from the Cinémathèque française to the then recently founded Vidéothèque de Paris. After watching video tapes on a screen, they are seen falling asleep at a table at a café, with dream images from an electronic image archive becoming linked with images from the films of Godard.

IMAGE UND UMSATZ ODER: WIE KANN MAN EINEN SCHUH DARSTELLEN? (Image and Sales or: How to Depict a Shoe, 1989, 28.10.) How is a product depicted? Farocki shows a meticulous interest in documenting all the working steps in an advertising campaign for a shoe collection. 

LEBEN – BRD (How to Live in the FRG, 1990, 30.10.) People practice for emergencies in lessons, group therapy sessions, and discussion rounds. In a parallel montage without commentary, life in West Germany is made to appear like one ongoing role play, in which experience is replaced by simulation.

WAS IST LOS? (What's Up?, 1991, 31.10.) “WHO...? asks Bresson and responds that it’s probably the devil. I ask WHAT drives us, as today the devil wears sportswear and has a fatigue fracture in his left foot. Here in the Federal Republic, there’s a lot going on in Marxist terms: the sterile production of added value. Lust without goal, unregulated cycles, no motif for redemption.” (HaF)

VIDEOGRAMME EINER REVOLUTION (Videograms of a Revolution, with Andrei Ujica, 1992, 31.10.) Images from Romanian state television and video images shot by amateurs are compiled into a chronicle of the revolution in Romania in December 1989. It’s not just the images are important, but also their perspectives on what’s happening.

SIDE BY SIDe: IMAGE work between production and destruction

Militarisation of the Gaze: How is it possible to prove the (media) violence of an image? Like few other films, BILDER DER WELT UND INSCHRIFT DES KRIEGES (1988) prepares the viewer for the ever-greater complicity with images as the operative means for conducting war, a tendency which can only be met with critical questioning of the cogency of the image. Based on existing images, Farocki documents a “terrorist aesthetic” (Paul Virilio) of optical stimulation, which appears both on control screens and on television with the confessed goal of making the observer or viewer either an accomplice or a potential victim, just like in times of war. (21.10., with guests Christa Blümlinger and Nora Alter)

Producing Building Blocks: The precise observation of the building blocks used to create infrastructures for work or mobility form a central theme of Farocki’s work. SESAMSTRASSE: TRANSPORT(1973, with Hartmut Bitomsky) is a playful look at attempts to make the transport of an important building material more efficient. In ZUM VERGLEICH (2009), Farocki produces a subjective cinematographic atlas of working processes based on brickworking facilities in India, Switzerland, Burkina Faso, France, and other places. Work by hand. Industry work. Computer work. Without commentary. A global history of brick production. (23.10., with guest Jean-Pierre Bekolo)

Straub/Huillet 1: In FILMTIP: DER TOD DES EMPEDOKLES (1987), Farocki speaks as, as it were, from one colleague to another with Andreas von Rauch, who is playing the role of Empedokles in the film by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. For in ARBEITEN ZU „KLASSENVERHÄLTNISSE“ (1983) by Huillet/Straub,  Farocki himself appears as an actor in the role of Delamarche. This collaboration can be understood as another form of learning and working with images. This film isn’t just a self-portrait, but also a tribute to Jean-Marie Straub – Farocki’s role model, colleague, and friend – and a documentary about an extraordinarily detailed set of staging techniques and methods for directing actors. In this way, Farocki filmed a work of resistance against traditional cinema, against which he also positioned himself with his own films. (24.10., guests: Constanze Ruhm and Christine Lang)

Straub/Huillet 2: There are numerous reasons why it’s the film KLASSENVERHÄLTNISSE (West Germany/France 1984)by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet in particular in which Farocki appeared as an actor in front of the camera. The film is about working relationships, which are analyzed by Straub/Huillet based on the literary model of Franz Kafka’s “Amerika”. The focus here is on the highly detailed creation of a film image that doesn’t follow the traditions of Hollywood cinema, but rather makes use of its own form of narrative cinema. Working with Straub/Huillet enabled Farocki to dedicate himself to the format of narrative cinema following his image agitation work of the 70s. We thus see Farocki as a non-professional actor and documentarian alongside the acting performance of Mario Adorf. (24.10., with guest Rembert Hüser und Barton Byg)

From the archive of the Harun Farocki Institute: While he was still studying, Farocki wrote author, painter, and filmmaker Peter Weiss a letter asking him for information about the “committee for the investigation of the crimes of the USA in Vietnam” that Weiss was a member of. Yet it was to last another twelve years until they actually managed to collaborate. As part of Film:ReStored (the Deutsche Kinemathek’s film preservation festival), materials showing Farocki’s links to Peter Weiss will be shown, which the Harun Farocki Institute has been able to prepare over the last year with the help of Arsenal and kornmanufaktur. RONNY UND HARUN SPIELEN THEATER (1982) shows the documentation of a theatrical, performative trailer for Farocki’s ETWAS WIRD SICHTBAR, which received its premiere in 1982 in the foyer of the Delphi cinema. (28.10., with guest Filipa César)

Digitale Premiere:ETWAS WIRD SICHTBAR (1982) doesn’t seek to explain why a war in such a far-off country as Vietnam could at one moment escalate to involve the entire Western world. It’s about distances, about in-between relationships. It doesn’t explain, it just recalls that no previous war was ever covered so intensively. But it would be too much to say that the images determined its course. It shows the afterpains, the effects of war. It combines a historical motif with a romantic one. Vietnam and a couple in love”. (Frieda Grafe) The digital version of the film is being shown for the first time. As part of Film:ReStored, Matthias Rajmann, a colleague of Farocki’s for many years and the person responsible for securing his work, will explain the digitization process. (28.10.)

Counter-Music: In Farock’s film, music plays neither an accompanying, nor a dramatic role, but rather appears as a space for observing production processes, much like how the image functions. SO LONG GOOD-BYE (1978) is a radio feature by Harun Farocki for WDR, which documented the 18-hour production of a three-minute disco single at the Hansa studios in Berlin in April 1977, a single which was supposed to replicate the success of Boney M. and Donna Summer in the record shop shelves. Two years later, Farocki returned to the sound studio – now with a camera – to document the production of another piece of music for SINGLE. EINE SCHALLPLATTE WIRD PRODUZIERT (1979). From 16.9. to 4.11., the “Harun Farocki und die Musik” exhibition curated by Antje Ehmann is taking place at the Galerie Barbara Weiss (30.10., with guests Antje Ehmann und Christine Lang) (dm/al)

“Harun Farocki: Year by Year/Side by Side”, a program by Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art and the Harun Farocki Institute, continues in November. It forms part of the Harun Farocki Retrospective, a neuer berliner kunstverein (n.b.k.) project in cooperation with Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art, the Harun 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.