April 2021, living archive

Arsenal 3 in March: Bricks

Still from Zum Vergleich


On 16 September 2013, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Arsenal showed a double programme entitled "Bricks" in the presence of Harun Farocki. Farocki's ZUM VERGLEICH (In Comparison, Germany 2009) and CHIRCALES (Colombia 1971) by Marta Rodríguez and Jorge Silva, two films about brickmaking from the Arsenal's collection, were shown. While Farocki's film observes manual labour, industrial work and computer work in India, Switzerland, Burkina Faso, France and other places, creating a global contemporary history of brick production, Marta Rodríguez's and Jorge Silva's film focuses on a brickmaker family over a period of six years, exemplifying the exploitation of the workers. "Archive außer sich" will show both films, which have a long history with the Arsenal Archive, on arsenal 3 in April.

A 16mm print of CHIRCALES came to the Arsenal Archive by way of Leipzig, where the film premiered at the International Leipzig Documentary and Short Film Week in 1972 and won a Golden Dove. Thanks to a grant from the Capital Cultural Fund for the 50th anniversary, the film was digitised by Arsenal in 2013. Two duplicate negatives were provided by the Fundación Cine Documental for this purpose. CHIRCALES is the first film in a trilogy on the oppression and resistance of indigenous people in Colombia, the second part of which, Planas, testimonio de un etnocidio (Colombia 1971), was shown at the 2nd International Forum of New Cinema in 1972 and also remained in the Arsenal Archive. It is currently being restored in Mexico by the Fundación Cine Documental. The third part, Campesinos, won a prize at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen in 1975, and a print has been in the archive there ever since. As part of "Archive außer sich", the Oberhausen project "re-selected – Film History as Print History" had a new 16mm copy made and subsequently digitised it in 2019. Nuestra voz de tierra, memoria y futuro (1982), also by Marta Rodríguez and Jorge Silva, has been in the Arsenal Archive since its world premiere at the International Forum of New Cinema (Berlinale Forum). It was digitally restored in 2018 as part of "Archive außer sich" and re-screened in 2019.
ZUM VERGLEICH, too, had its world premiere at the Berlinale Forum (2009), a 16mm print was subsequently distributed by Arsenal. In the course of the digitisation and restoration of Harun Farocki's complete works (with the support of the Goethe-Institut), the film was digitised in 2017 with funding from the FFA.

CHIRCALES   Marta Rodríguez, Jorge Silva   Colombia 1971   OV engl. subs 42’
The Castañeda family makes bricks from mud for a pittance outside of Bogotá, but then is laid off. Observing in documentary fashion and featuring an off-camera commentary, the film analyses the relationship between workers deprived of rights and poverty.

ZUM VERGLEICH   In Comparison   Harun Farocki   Germany 2009   no dialogue 61’
Bricks are manufacured in Africa, India and Europe and used to erect clinics, children's homes, schools and residential buildings. Harun Farocki observed the different steps of the manufacturing process. Bricks are cast, fired or pressed by hands, machines or robots.
Depending on the country of production, this involves a single worker or a large group. The film's title communicates a decisive aspect: Farocki merely offers material to the viewer, who has to draw the actual comparisons between traditional, early industrial, and fully industrialized societies himself. The brick is the smallest unit and the sole focus of the film. The interconnecting elements are title cards displaying some brief information about the place and the construction method. Another comparison is evoked: The smallest unit of the 16mm image is the grain. It has a connection with the pixel generated on a computer in Switzerland to represent a brick and also with the pencil drawing of a European architecture student in India. Analog and digital imagery are more than mere information carriers, they are part of the production. (Stefanie Schulte Strathaus)

Both films can be seen worldwide.

In preparation for the first edition of the archive festival Archival Assembly, which is expected to take place in September 2021, "Archive außer sich", as well as archives and initiatives close to the project, will present programmes on arsenal 3 in monthly rotation.