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Haus der Kunst opens exhibition of works by Harun Farocki
"An Image", Harun Farocki, 1983.



MUNICH.- Harun Farocki (1944-2014) was a leading figure in a scene of filmmakers and intellectuals that emerged in Europe in the late 1960s in response to explosive political debates. During this period, questions emerged surrounding the production conditions of filmmakers and auteurs, and the analytical role of cinema in the context of socio-political events.

Over the course of his long and influential career, Farocki created over 90 films, including feature films, film essays, television films and documentaries; he also collaborated with fellow artists on installations, texts, exhibitions, and projects. "Harun Farocki: Counter Music" explores this extensive oeuvre. Current disenchantment with labor practices around the world and the mass displacement of workers that has taken place under the cover of globalization have lent renewed urgency and energy to Farocki's incisive reflections and multifaceted work.

The tensions and contradictions of the labor market are central to Farocki's cinematic legacy. Various modes of production and consumption and how they developed over the decades have been of particular interest to him. In his film essay "Workers Leaving the Factory" (1995), the camera focuses on a series of factory gates opening at the end of a shift, releasing a stream of workers who hurry to leave the premises, as if the working day had robbed them of precious time that they must now recoup.

Although the product the workers are manufacturing in "Workers Leaving the Factory" is neither mentioned nor of interest here, it is nevertheless a tangible object. In "Nothing Ventured" (2004), this is also indirectly the case. The film shows two representatives of a company that manufactures non-contact sensors in negotiations with investors. The discussion is central to the film, and both sides heed common business management practices. The company representatives' confidence in their contracts and product impresses the investors and makes the reps behave obligingly. The film presents the credit negotiations between 'real' actors - whereby an awareness of being filmed may affect both the actors in action and the viewers in perception.

As an example of intangible work, Farocki shows consultancy firms presenting their portfolios while pitching to prospective clients. With his films, Farocki documents both the use of language and specialist jargon, e.g. corporate culture, visions, investment capital, etc., as well as the model of a changing workplace (open-plan offices) in a company building where employees "check-in" when they come to work.

"Counter Music" (2004) presents images of a city's lifelines at night taken by surveillance cameras without human intervention, for example in subway stations or on street corners. The human work consists of watching this flood of images on a variety of monitors. Regulatory methods of surveillance in private and public spaces, as well as the increasing digitization and dissemination of stationary and moving images, are another constant in Farocki's work.

Farocki's filming techniques include repetition, recapitulation, montage, and fetishism. The film "Ein Bild" ("An Image", 1983) explores the production of a playmate-of-the-month cover photo for a glossy magazine, from the preparations and fixtures in the studio and the shooting with a model to the dismantling of the studio. The fetish here is the female body. Farocki's oeuvre constitutes an archeology of work processes that have changed constantly over the past decades and been altered through media distribution and reception.










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