Harun Farocki – Reality Would Have to Begin
DESCHIS si la NAG
01.10.2020 - 31.10.2020
Harun Farocki (1944–2014) was one of the most important German filmmakers, his impressive body of work including over 100 films. He is known for his unique voice, both related to his experimental approach to the image and the montage, and to the way he formulates critical micro-narratives on history, worldviews and political realities which draw out social practices and phenomena filtered by the use of image and image-making. As a director, screenwriter, author, Farocki created a cinematographic and artistic oeuvre, difficult to frame in a single genre, from films made for the German television to feature films screened at major international festivals, later, to installations specifically designed for artistic venues, while it simultaneously maps a self-referential and self-reflexive level of the film, constantly bringing the dialogue between image and image into a close-up. The present exhibition is a selection of Harun Farocki's films, videos and installations created between 1980s and 2014, part of them in collaboration with the artist and director Antje Ehmann (b. 1968), with whom he’d been working since the early 2000s. The focal point of the exhibition is that it reveals not only the various codes which program and condition the visual field from which the author extracts his images, but also the way in which montage is used as a thinking tool. Montage, as Farocki understood it, often takes the form of linguistic analogies, niches simultaneously dividing the images and bringing them together, indexical gestures, a metaphor for ‘transfer’. The image and the counter image undergo repetition, reassessment, balance, or mutual complement, and the viewer’s imagination infuses them with their coherent political realities. The title of the exhibition was inspired by Harun Farocki's 1988 essay of the same title, translated into English in 1992, and which served for the basis of the film Images of the World and the Inscription of War [Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges]. This title suggests a turning point, a gesture that could bring about a change in an unbearable situation. Specifically, these words are a call to block access to nuclear weapons, and they recall a statement by the philosopher Günther Anders which highlights the failure of the Allies to bomb the access to the Auschwitz camp and to stop further crimes in World War II. To understand what is present but cannot be seen, reality would have to begin. Acknowledging the two previous exhibitions held in Romania which were dedicated to the German filmmaker (tranzit.ro / Iași, 2018 and Goethe Institut Bukarest, 2019), this exhibition provides several thematic sequences through which one can grasp Harun Farocki's filmography and artistic activity spanning over an extended period of time: A section of this exhibition focuses on multi-channel video installations which make up an ‘archive of filmic expressions’ (as Farocki called it) or a ‘film dictionary’ based on film history excerpts, found footage, and the method of joining up these fragments through soft-montage. Another section of the exhibition is dedicated to the film essays about the visual history of Nazi concentration camps and the politics of a new visual typology generated by data banks and operative image archives, containing ‘more images than the eye can see’. The third thematic section of the exhibition follows another recurrent theme of Farocki’s creation: labor as reflected in the mutations suffered and their valorisation or representation in a social-political context.