curated by Constanze Ruhm
The project “NICHT löschbares Feuer” focuses on four decades of work from film director Harun Farocki through an artist’s space perspective, in this period of time where a convergence of Farocki materials appear in neighboring regional institutions (ZKM Karlsruhe in the group exhibition CTRL [SPACE], Frankfurter Kunstverein), and the release of a newly published book on his work “Imprint/Nachdruck” (Lukas&Sternberg NY, 2001).
“NICHT löschbares Feuer” introduces an overview of Harun Farocki’s film and video works as well as his work as author and filmcritic (editor and writer of Filmkritik journal, Filmand TAZ Berlin), including his well know installation piece Ich glaubte Gefangene zu sehen along with a first presentation of a new installation with the title Die Maschinen tun ihre Arbeit nicht länger blind which is based on materials Farocki is currently investigating.
The project centers specifically on Farocki’s methodology and practice on the scale of a highly individual artistic approach and convention, that of first and foremost a filmmaker, a documentarist and writer engaged in politics of representation. His strategy connects an ongoing investigation of notions of representation with a search for new principles of montage, for tools that render visible the changing structures of a society. A new technique of framing is employed that allows for comparison, analysis and modification of the political and cultural space of ideas within which representational modes are formulated. These montage principles are applied within various media formats as a form of consistent exploration of the etymology of images, as well as through a technique of re-inscription and re-contextualization within always-new constellations. Farocki relates that to a critique of hegemonical, official forms of representation ranging from subjects like the Vietnam war to Self Managment, Advertisement and sales strategies. Through doubting the truth of that what we see, he reveals the mechanics hidden beneath the surface of images and opens them up to critical rereading and re-interpretation.
Farockis work always begins with a crucial question: What is an image? he asks. What is representation, and how does it relate to that which is represented? By using images to comment on other images, a method he calls “horizontal montage”, Farocki attempts to analyze that which can be found behind their visible surface. One of his long-term projects is concerned with the creation of a collection of filmic “expressions” that could be compared to a dictionary for spoken and written language. In a broad sense, this would include further systems of classification, the organization of image collections by topic and motive or even by their narrative meaning.
NICHT löschbares Feuer( d. Harun Farocki. 16mm, b/w, 1968/69, 25 min.)
What Farocki Taught ( d. Jill Godmilow. With Gloria Jean Masciarotte and Ted Mandell. 16mm, b/w and color, 1998, 30 min.)
The project opens with a screening of two films followed by a discussion with the artist. The focus is on production, with Farocki’s film on Vietnam and US manufacture of Napalm, NICHT löschbares Feuer(1968/69), and US filmmaker Jill Godmilow’s 1998 shot-for-shot replica What Farocki Taught. Together, these represent a dialogue between decades where the causality chain of action and reaction within the sensitive field of cultural readings and re-readings becomes visible. As Godmilow writes for this haus.0 presentation: What Farocki Taught is a replica — not a remake, not an homage, not an updating — but a shot-for-shot replica of Harun Farocki’s 1969 film Inextinguishable Fire. It was intended as a repetition of the original. Gertrude Stein once said, ‘Let me repeat what history teaches: History teaches.’ Fireseemed worth repeating.
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