The work of Harun Farocki, one of the most original, complex and sophisticated within modern German cinema, will be approached through various formats: a film program that will screen a selection of his works, a lecture given by the filmmaker, and a workshop dedicated to his work. As a creator of films that are difficult to classify—the categories of "essay" and "documentary" are without a doubt insufficient—Farocki has developed a chance arrangement of images in his work that allows him to discover the ideology that underwrites a technique and the way in which a technique is likewise capable of generating new structures of thought. These "essays for the classification of images," in the words of Gilles Deleuze (a reference for Farocki), acquire different forms in Farocki's work and includes everything from images of cinema's precursors (easel painting, photography) to its inheritors (video and digital). With these, Farocki interrogates the social intersection between war, the economy and politics against the backdrop of an audiovisual history of civilization.

In one of his first shorts, Nicht löschbares Feuer (Inextinguishable Fire, 1969), realized in relation to the events of May '68, Farocki considers how to make a film about napalm and what the relation with the spectator would be. In Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges (Images of the World and Epigraphs of the War, 1988), Forocki, with austerity and rigor, engages in the act of looking at an image and in describing what the image really signifies as well as its implications. His recent works, Eye Machine I and II (2001 and 2002) about the Gulf War in 1991, deal with the way in which visual military technologies penetrate civilian life. Farocki exposes the point at which the human eye looses its capacity to discern real images.

The use of archival material is common in his work, as in, for example, Videogramme einer Revolution (Videograms of a Revolution, 1992, 106'). Co-directed with Andrei Ujica, the film uses anonymous material from a television archive and deals with the bloody collapse of the Ceaucescu regime in Romania in 1989; likewise, Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik (Workers Leaving the Factory, 1995) employs archival material taken directly from the history of cinema. In Gefängnisbilder (Prison Images, 2000) images from the films of Robert Bresson and Jean Genet as well as documentaries of the Nazi period exist in dialogue with discarded surveillance recordings from maximum-security prisons in the United States.

Another recurrent theme in Farocki's work is advertising. Der Auftritt (The Debut, 1996) demonstrates the way in which a design studio debates a linguistic term in more depth than a poetry seminar. In a similar way, Stilleben (Still Lives, 1997) reveals the resemblances between the tradition of Flemish painting—with its description of quotidian objects—and contemporary advertising photographs, while the process of creating a film is reflected in Jean-Marie Straub und Danièle Huillet bei der Arbeit an einem Film nach Franz Kafkas Romanfragment "Amerika" (Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet Working on a Film Based on Franz Kafka's "America", 1983)—two filmmakers with whom Farocki studied.

Die Schöpfer der Einkaufswelten (The Creators of Consumer Worlds, 2001) speaks to the structures of thought that exist behind strategies of consumption. Just as in his early work, Farocki's method exposes a technique that emanates an ideology, which, in this case, has undeniable totalitarian roots.

Organized with:
Goethe Institut


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26. Inaugural session.
Jean-Marie Straub und Daniele Huillet bei der Arbeit an einem Film nach Franz Kafkas Romanfragment "Amerika", 1983, 26 min.16 mm

This film takes as its subject the process of creating a film—in this case a film by Farocki's former professor at the film academy, Jean-Marie Straub. Together with Danielle Huillet, Straub breaks with cinematographic language in a systematic way. The film is an homage to Straub that turns into a self-portrait of Farocki.

LECTURE, 7:30pm
Subtext and subimage
Lecture by Harun Farocki, filmmaker, and Roger M. Buergel, critic, independent curator and Director of Documenta XII (Kassel, 2007)
Where: MACBA AUDITORIUM. Free admission. Limited seating. Simultaneous translation service available.

SCREENINGS: Thursdays at 7:30pm

Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges 1988, 75 min.

When North Americans took aerial photographs of an industrial plant bordering Auschwitz, no one was on guard for the existence of a concentration camp. This fact is the point of departure for Farocki's investigation into the construction of the gaze from a history of aerial photography, as it is employed as a tool for spying, registering and controlling bombings.

Videogramme einer Revolution 1992, 106 min. 16mm

Realized from more than 120 hours of anonymous material from a television archive—material dealing with the bloody collapse of the Ceaucescu regime in Romania in 1989—the film reflects on media and history and the infinite becoming of televisual images that banalize everything, even revolutions.

Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik 1995, 36 min.

In the hands of the Lumière brothers, the first camera in the history of cinema filmed a factory. Farocki investigates the representation of different concepts of work that the cinema has produced over the course of its history.

Stilleben 1997, 58 min.16mm

Produced for Documenta X, in this film Farocki demonstrates the similarity between the Flemish painting tradition—with its description of quotidian objects—and contemporary advertising photography.

Die Bewerbung 1997, 58 min.

This documentary is about how the unemployed learn to sell themselves: from those that participate in social programs to the top managers that train themselves in order to apply for a job.

Gefängnisbilder 2000, 60 min.

In this film, images from the films of Robert Bresson and Jean Genet as well as documentaries from the Nazi period exist in dialogue with discarded recordings by surveillance cameras at maximum-security prisons in the United State; more concretely, the material includes the death of an inmate after a violent altercation.

Die Schöpfer der Einkaufswelten 2001, 72 min.

To enter a large commercial center can be transformed, depending on the occasion, into a Dantean descent into hell or into the redemptive last supper. All commercial centers' images are the product of a highly sophisticated mise-en-scène created by specialists in seducing one to consume.

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