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The Song of the Shirt

Filmstill from the film "The Song of the Shirt" by Kerstin Schroedinger. You see a person stretching out a white fabric.
© Kerstin Schroedinger
  • Director

    Kerstin Schroedinger

  • Germany / 2020
    46 min. / Single-channel video installation / Original version with English subtitles

  • Original language


    Single-channel video installation

The work departs from Ernst Toller’s play “Die Maschinenstürmer” (1922), but relocates its themes along the remnants and ruins of the cotton industry, in post-2011 Egypt and post-industrial Poland. Actualizing a criticism of technology, the film re-reads the Luddites movement for a contemporary body of the worker that is always already informed by the histories of technological progress. Filmed in one continuous shot, the movements of a seamstress, a projectionist, the screen maker, and the film crew as the choir seek to find ways to intervene in the cyclic structure, possible disruptions torn between the historical continuity and an urge to deviate the progressive form. Slow down, stop, don’t proceed. 
Projections on off-white cotton screens document production methods in the fields of cotton agriculture, weaving, processing, sewing, and storytelling—all narrative structures that can tell us about complex social changes in everyday life experiences. In a counter-narrative, two voices seek out subverted forms of sabotage, practices of weaving the stories and telling the textiles that may be (to quote Haraway) “making practices, pedagogical practices, and cosmological performances.” (Kerstin Schroedinger)

Kerstin Schroedinger is an artist working in performance-based moving image and sound performance. Her historiographic practice questions the means of image production, historical linearities, and ideological certainties of representation. She researches the coinciding histories of industrialization and film. Her works and curatorial practice are often collaborative. Since 2017 she is a member of LaborBerlin, an artist-run analog film lab in Berlin.

Production Kerstin Schroedinger. Production company Kerstin Schroedinger (Berlin, Germany). Director Kerstin Schroedinger. Screenplay Nawara Belal, Kerstin Schroedinger. Cinematography Bernadette Paassen. Editing Kerstin Schroedinger. Music Wibke Tiarks, Kerstin Schroedinger. Sound design Gilles Aubry. Sound Manuela Schininà. Production design Sophia Sylvester Röpcke. Costumes Sophia Sylvester Röpcke. Assistant director Wibke Tiarks. With Maha Maamoun (Voice), Omnia Sabry (Projectionist), Natalia Rolón (Seamstress), Kerstin Schroedinger (Screenmaker). 


2004: Das Monument (5 min.). 2007: anstatt dass (11 min.). 2009: as found (with Mareike Bernien, 15 min.). 2010: Rigid things can always be moved about (35 min.), Translating the other (with Mareike Bernien, 7 min.). 2011: Red, she said (with Mareike Bernien, 13 min.). 2014: Rainbow's Gravity (with Mareike Bernien, Forum Expanded 2014, 33 min.). 2015: Fugue (8 min., forum expanded 2016). 2017: Bläue (48 min., forum expanded 2018). 2020: Songs of the Shirt (Forum Expanded 2021), The Song of the Shirt.

Bonus Material

Still from the film "The Song of the Shirt" by Kerstin Schroedinger. Transparent fabric gives a glimpse of a crumbling house.

Kerstin Schroedinger, THE SONG OF THE SHIRT (Still) © Kerstin Schroedinger

“At the core of what I am doing is a concern with the history of industrialization and modernity and with the search for other forms of knowledge production.”

Ala Younis talks with artist Kerstin Schroedinger (10:31 min.)

Bonus Material

  • Still from the film "The Song of the Shirt" by Kerstin Schroedinger. Two people stretch a fabric between their bodies onto which images are projected.

    Audio Description

    Audio track of the installation with visual description for blind and visually impaired people

  • Film still from "The Song of the Shirt" by Kerstin Schroedinger. A screen lit from behind with a shadow of an indefinable object.


    In one long continuous traveling shot, this video installation tells a complex story of industrialization, revisiting motives of the Luddites movement, and reflecting upon the role of cotton within colonialism.

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Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur