The Northampton Arts Council is a city board and a non-profit organization whose goal is to support and promote the arts in Northampton. Originally created as a Local Arts Lottery Council, it began its work by administering a grants program in which proceeds from a state lottery are distributed to local artists, arts groups, and public schools.

Friday, November 20, 2015

FAST FORWARD FILM SERIES: Harun Farocki Still Life

Harun Farocki in Germany in April, 2014 with his 12-screen installation, "Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades." Credit: Carmen Jaspersen/European Pressephoto Agency

Sunday, December 6th, at 3 pm
Historic Northampton
This event is free and open to the public
More info:

Harun Farocki (1944-2014) was an avant-garde German filmmaker and video artist whose work examined the ways images are used to inform, instruct, persuade and propagandize. Mr. Farocki made more than 100 films, many of them short experimental documentaries that explored contemporary life, and what he saw as its myriad depredations -- war, imprisonment, surveillance, capitalism -- through the visual stimuli that attend them. Ruminative, but with an undercurrent of urgency born of his longstanding social engagement, Mr. Farocki's films sought to illuminate the ways that the technology of image-making is used to shape public ideology. His work, shown on European television, has also been the subject of major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London and elsewhere.

Writing about Mr. Farocki in 1992, The Los Angeles Times called him "surely one of the most challenging, speculative and distinctive filmmakers ever to confront an audience." Mr. Farocki's films were conspicuous assemblages, comprising found and archival footage including surveillance tapes, home movies and corporate training films. By juxtaposing such images, he sought both to highlight their curious commonalities and to put his finger on the political imperatives that lay beneath their flickering surfaces.

Mr. Farocki, who was deeply influenced by Bertolt Brecht and Jean-Luc Godard, studied at the German Film and Television Academy in West Berlin. He began making films -- from the very beginning, they were non-narrative essays on the politics of imagery -- in the mid-1960s. On the whole, Mr. Farocki's film seemed to say, under the strains of modern life, the objects bear up better than the people do.

The New York Times, August 23, 2014


Harun Farocki: Still Life, 1997, 58 minutes
In his film Still Life Harun Farocki connects the contemporary advertizing of consumer objects to the 17th century Flemish tradition of still life painting. Weaving together scenes from shoots advertising cheese, watches and beer, juxtaposed with 17th century still life paintings, Farocki explores the similarities and differences between these two image making traditions. As the final film in the series, Still Life gets at the essential question of the series' theme: how do we photograph objects?

The program will be introduced by Barton Byg, Professor of German at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Barton Byg teaches German literary and cultural studies as well as film studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is founding Director of the DEFA Film Library and a founding faculty member of the UMass Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies. His publications focus on the cinema and cultural legacy of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), the films of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, documentary film and Cold War culture. His recent interdisciplinary teaching has focused on such topics as landscape and film, color, modern poetry and the culture of memory.

He is currently teaching a course on Brecht and World Cinema at Hampshire College, which he has dedicated to the memory of Harun Farocki.

The fall Fast Forward season is curated by Magda Bermudez, a media-artist based in Northampton MA. She has taught summer courses in non-fiction film for undergraduate and high school students through Hampshire College's Creative Media Institute, and teaches media-literacy at Amherst Cinema's See Hear Feel Film program for third graders. In her own work she is interested in discarded formats, objects and places, and is currently making a series films about the history of the Swift River Valley. Ms. Bermudez received her BA from Hampshire College.

Thanks to: The Goethe Institute Boston for making this film available to us.

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