1 June – 16 October 2016. Fundació Antoni Tàpies
Harun Farocki. Empathy
Curators: Antje Ehmann and Carles Guerra
Harun Farocki, Nicht löschbares Feuer (1969)
Two years after the death of Harun Farocki (Novy Jičin 1944 – Berlin, 2014), this exhibition brings together the films and installations of an author recognised as a filmmaker, artist, critic and activist and as a seminal figure of the second half of the twentieth century.
In collaboration with the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, the Fundació Antoni Tàpies presents the second half of a project that revisits Farocki’s militant films from the 1960s and the installations that totally occupied him from 1995. While the selection at IVAM will focus on his research on surveillance cameras and the technification of vision, the Fundació Antoni Tàpies is presenting a series of emblematic works analysing new forms of labour arising from capitalist production demand, especially those that require the mobilisation of more subjective and human aspects than those hitherto employed by the systems of exploitation.
The notion of empathy, taken from a text by Harun Farocki, guides the selection of works that will be presented in Barcelona. While in the 1960s Brecht’s distancing effect imposed determinism and objectivity in documentary practices, towards the end of his life Farocki questioned why that precious term had been handed over to the enemy, i.e. to the industry of cinema and entertainment. It was necessary to reconsider it and re-appropriate it. This could explain this author’s particular vision of the camera as a tool for filming spaces of professional training, business negotiations and working spaces without any judgement or stigmatisation. His films are witness to the meticulous training of the workforce, especially in places where interpersonal communication plays a significant role.
Complementing this selection of works on Farocki’s interest in the world of labour, now and in the past, and probably deriving from the cinema’s original motifs, the Fundació Antoni Tàpies will present for the first time in Spain a large installation produced by Farocki and Antje Ehmann. Eine Einstellung zur Arbeit / Labour in a Single Shot (2011–14) recollects scenes of workers leaving their workplaces reproduced over more than a century. The production of this large-format installation took place in the context of seminars conducted by the authors in different cities in the world, which indicates that cinematic scenarios can be found wherever a pedagogy of the image exists. Farocki’s work is thus founded on an idea of cinema as something that avoids all illusions of an innocent image in favour of ideological transmission through the history of visuality.