Natalie Gravenor | Thursday February 26th, 2015
The depiction of labor in mass media, analysing pre-industrial, industrial and digital economic structures and redefining the working class as a group (and ideally sense of class consciousness and solidarity) to which the bricklayer and the media professional alike belong as equals – these were some recurring themes of the late Harun Farocki‘s work. So too “Labour in a Single Shot” (the English translation doesn’t convey the wordplay of the German title “Eine Einstellung zur Arbeit”, Einstellung meaning both “shot” and “attitude”) the project Farocki was last working on. Together with his longtime partner, artist Antje Ehmann, Farocki travelled to 15 cities around the world, from Berlin to Bangalore to Boston, and conducted video workshops with locals from all walks of life to produce short films between one and two minutes long that depict various aspects of labor. The only requirement – the film must be a single shot. Anything else was left to the filmmakers’ imagination: whether fixed or moving camera, use of dialogue, showing humans or just spaces.
After presentation in the films’ cities of origin and now, the project comes to a close at Berlin’s House of World Cultures, with an exhibition featuring all films, accompanied by two parallel installations based upon Farocki’s history of labor in cinema WORKERS LEAVING THE FACTORY (trailer above) and new re-enactments by workshop participants of the Brothers Lumière’s original short documentary “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory” (1895), one of the first films ever made. The exhibition comes with a brochure with key labor facts as clever infographics, designed by Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann, who also created pictograms for each of the 15 project cities.
Labour in a Single Shot opens today and runs through April 6.