In memoriam Harun Farocki

     |    Thursday, der 31. July 2014  |     1
Harun Farocki

(c) Foto:  Markus J. Feger

Today we received the sad news that Harun Farocki has died. Our condolences go out to Farocki’s partner and collaborator Antje Ehmann, his loyal and dedicated production team, and his family and friends.

Harun Farocki was born in 1944 in Novy Jicin (then German occupied Sudetenland, today Czech Republic). Germany’s troubled history and its ramifications on the present were recurring motifs in his work. He moved to West Berlin and was among the first students enrolled at the German Film and Television Academy (dffb) in 1966. West Berlin was a center of student protest, and Farocki’s films reflected the burning questions of the day, notably the civilian „collateral damage“ (before the term became commonplace) Vietnam War in INEXTINGUISHABLE FIRE (1969), a classic of activist cinema. With „Videograms of a Revolution“ (1991, co-directed with Andrei Ujica) Farocki made arguably one of the definitive films (a description he may have questioned) about the 1989 overthrow of the Ceaucescu regime in Romania and the role television and ‚grassroots‘ video activism played.

In over 100 films and installations, Farocki investigated the interplay between image politics and society. AN IMAGE went behind the scenes of a Playboy centerfold photo shoot; WORKERS LEAVING THE FACTORY analysed the depiction of laborers in documentaries, industrial films and features throughout the history of cinema; „How To Live in the FRG“ showed how simulations and role playing figure in everyday life. Farocki was a versatile media artist who was equally adept with narrative and immersive forms. He co-wrote (with Christian Petzold) the German Film Award winning drama „State I’m In“ about how former RAF members deal with new identities, family, settling down and middle-age, and he successfully crossed over into the art world with his installations such INTERFACE, a media theoretical revisiting of INEXTINGUISHABLE FIRE, SERIOUS GAMES, which investigates the use of computer simulation in preparing for war and debriefing its participants and the documenta entry DEEP PLAY which dissects the 2006 soccer World Cup finals broadcast.

Farocki’s work exhibited an enyclopedic knowledge of cinema and historical events, a sly humor, a never-ending curiosity and openness to new technological developments. We wish we could have looked forward to new projects for many, many years to come and are all the more grateful for the completed films and installations. Farocki’s voice will be greatly missed.