Artists Space

Harun Farocki

Screening & Discussion
September 8, 2014, 7pm

Originally programmed to mark the launch of a new publication on Harun Farocki's films titled Harun Farocki Diagrams. Images From Ten Films, this event will pay tribute to and celebrate the work and life of the groundbreaking German filmmaker.

Fifteen images arranged in a grid, depicting close-ups of human faces and arial views of war.
Spread from Harun Farocki Diagrams. Images from Ten Films, stills from Images of the World and the Inscription of War, 1988. [Fifteen images arranged in a grid, depicting close-ups of human faces and arial views of war.]

Art historian Alexander Alberro and film theorist Thomas Elsaesser will discuss the impact of Harun Farocki's work, and introduce a screening of the 1988 film Images of the World and the Inscription of War. This seminal essay film considers the technology of photography and the mediation of the world through images, as intertwined with militarized mechanisms of surveillance, measurement and destruction. Centering on the historical incidence of aerial photographs of Auschwitz taken by Allied forces in 1944, but only identified as such by the CIA in 1977, the film is indicative of Farocki's implication of allegorical objects – objects that we must first decipher and then use in further deciphering (Hal Foster).

The publication Harun Farocki Diagrams – produced by designer Benedikt Reichenbach with Farocki, on the occasion of the filmmaker's 70th birthday in January 2014 – provides a visual access to the work in the form of a book. It traces the dynamics within ten of his films (including Images of the World) through the arrangement of still images. By means of repetition, interruption and displacement, the book seeks to follow mechanisms of order and open-endedness that are characteristic of Farocki's work in general. Presented alongside each film's complete commentaries, dialogues and intertitles, as well as a number of commissioned essays, Harun Farocki Diagrams celebrates the films' major critical gesture: the exposition of mediality.

What I most valued about him as a human being and as a filmmaker, and what makes his loss most painful, was his ability to put himself on the line with each of his topics, and run an ethical risk with every film. Even when working with the dry materials he sometimes chose to make his own, he did justice to the documentary filmmaker's foremost responsibility: to neither denounce nor co-opt the people and situations he portrays.
– Thomas Elsaesser