The Image Factory is the second exhibition in SBC’s long-term research program on sovereignty. From February 28 to April 27, two film works will be presented in the gallery: Respite, (2007) by Harun Farocki and November, (2004) by Hito Steyerl.
In Respite, Harun Farocki works with film footage commissioned in 1944 by the commander at Westerbork, a former Dutch refugee camp turned transit camp by the Nazis after the occupation of Holland in 1942. The original film was made to showcase the efficiency of the camp - a sort of corporate film meant to promote the camp as a model of productive labour. Farocki, however, juxtaposes the archival footage of peaceful scenes of the inmates at work and repose in Westerbork with descriptions of known historical images of the extermination camps.
Hito Steyerl’s video essay November is constructed around images of her best friend Andrea Wolf’s life. Steyerl juxtaposes footage from a super 8 feminist kung fu film the artist made in the eighties featuring herself and Wolf as female martial arts fighters, with images of her friend some twenty years later, a Kurdish revolutionary killed by Turkish forces and represented publicly as either a martyr or a terrorist. In Wolf’s life and Steyerl’s depiction of it, individual or local acts and forms of resistance are butted up against complex forms of global territorial power politics.
Both films open the floor to questions around the mechanics of domination and control and the role that images play in the strategic building of histories, the construction of political subjects and in their representation. Employing historical film and photographic footage, the artists explore questions around the strategic impulses that go into the creation of images, and the complexities involved in asking those constructed images to ‘represent’.
While working within the vocabulary of documentary film both Steyerl and Farocki firmly reject the pretense of objectivity in that practice.
“November is the time after October, a time when revolution seems to be over, and peripheral struggles have become particular, localist and almost impossible to communicate. In November, the former heroes become madmen and die in extralegal executions somewhere on a dirty roadside and information about it is so diffused with predictable propaganda, that hardly any one takes a closer look.”
Hito Steyerl, November