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Indepth Arts News:

"Harun Farocki: Viewpoint Festival"
2001-02-10 until 2001-03-11
Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst
Gent, , BE

As part of the festival Viewpoint SMAK presents again the work of an artist, active in both plastic art and film. Last year a video installation and a photo series of Harmony Korine – the enfant terrible of the American Cinema - has been exposed. This year two works of the German-Egypt director Harun Farocki will be presented.

Harun Farocki is making films since 1966 in a style close to the French 'Nouvelle Vague' movement of the fifties. Over the years Farocki developed an own style, technically refined and with a great profundity concerning the content. Politics, economy and aesthetic crosses each other, and because of that his films get a strong reflective and critical force.

The 'image maker' registers rarely the reality in an objective way. To decode and understand images completely Farocki means that it is necessary to revert to our ‘knowledge’ or memories of reality. To lighten this aspect Harun Farocki works almost only with existing shots of security cameras, espionage departments or amateurish shots of hand cameras. He offers the spectators a new critical view on existing, so-called neutral images. According to Farocki the reality and the representation on film exists in two parallel worlds, with a dialectic skill between them. He edits the different recycled shots in such a way that they are not only critical and philosophical, but also with a poetical force.

SMAK shows two movies: Schnittstelle and I Thought I was Seeing Convicts. Schnittstelle (1995), a video installation, deals with the question of the reuse of existing images, and considers the consequences or the relevance of it for the filmmaker and the viewer. The movie legitimises in a way his consequent choice for using existing shots in stead of new ones. The title Schnittstelle refers to the different meanings of the word 'Schnitt'. On the one hand it refers to the editing table of the filmmaker, where the tape is 'cut'; on the other hand to the way a human being moves in the virtual world of computers, cameras etc., namely with the help of a keyboard, a webcam and all kind of internetconnections.

In I Thought I was Seeing Convicts, his most recent film, Farocki uses shots of security cameras of one of the maximum security prisons in America. We see how the camera suddenly zooms in on a fight between two prisoners. The guarding warns the prisoners through speakers, and then fires rubber bullets. A little later they fire live ammunition. By omitting the sound of this fragment and by placing the camera next to the rifleman Farocki emphasises the social relationship between the one who fires and the one who films; between the one with force and the one who take shots. Because of this the images get a very oppressive and critical character.

Harun Farocki
Stills from
I Thought I was Seeing Convicts, 2000

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