Ruhrtriennale 2014

Antje Ehmann / Harun Farocki

Labour in a Single Shot

Video installation

in Museum Folkwang

Aug. 16 – Sept. 28, 2014

Museum Folkwang and Ruhrtriennale mourn with Antje Ehmann, his family and his friends for the artist Harun Farocki. 1944 – 2014.

The camera of the first film ever screened was pointed at a factory. The film, entitled La Sortie de l’usine Lumière á Lyon (1895), shows men and women as they leave the gate of the Lumière factory in Lyon. The film of the Lumière Brothers, shot in just a single take, tells us that every detail of the moving world is worth being arrested on film and viewed.

For their new project Eine Einstellung zur Arbeit (Labour in a Single Shot) Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki return to the methods of the Lumière Brothers to gain something of the decisive objectivity of the films of the nineteenth century. They made it themselves their task to also treat the subject of ´work` with a single camera shot.

Over the last three years, Ehmann and Farocki travelled to 15 major urban centers where they produced over 400 short films with local video artists and filmmakers. The films show forms of work that are paid and unpaid, material and immaterial, traditional and brand new, industrial and pre-industrial.

Eine Einstellung zur Arbeit is a challenge to see work in the twenty-first century from a double perspective: as an individual act in the midst of collective constraints. The short films are simultaneously a form of documentation and a form of construction: For the rhetorical figure of the ´workers`, they collect a plethora of concrete images. Taking pictures of the tiniest details of the tools, machine loading, hand movements, motion sequence, and scenic moments, the film shots develop their observations and linkages from the material itself. Whether sitting at the loom, at the computer, or at the piano, whether at Boston’s MIT, a senior citizen’s home in Buenos Aires, Łódź’s Museum of Natural History, or a gym in Tel Aviv, they are surprisingly magical moments that the factual generates.

The exhibition conceived for the museum space is the first extensive presentation of Eine Einstellung zur Arbeit. It does not understand itself as the only conceivable, closed narrative, but as a kind of symbolic editing table, a lab in which the spectator can put together his or her own film. Ten screens showing six short films each from the respective cities, with images, voices, sounds, and various languages, fill an entire room. Eine Einstellung zur Arbeit is a surprising social history, a highly organized, global encyclopedia, and a condensed reading of reality.

How workers today around the world leave their place of work is shown in an additional installation that Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki developed during the many years of working together. Arbeiter verlassen ihren Arbeitsplatz in 10 Städten (Workers Leaving Workplace in Ten Cities) can be seen as an updated remake of the Lumière film. The installation shows on ten monitors how workers leave their place of employment in ten different cities.

Antje Ehmann is curator, author, and artist. Harun Farocki, filmmaker and writer, has been analyzing political, social, and cultural issues using film since 1966. In the mid-1990s, he began to extend his works from the cinema to the art space, from the screen to the video installation. His works, now more than 100 films, are shown in galleries, museums, and biennials around the world. Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki live in Berlin.

A project by Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki 

Films from — Bangalore (Indien), Boston (USA), Buenos Aires (Argentinien), Kairo (Ägypten), Hangzou (China), Hanoi (Vietnam), Johannesburg (Süd Afrika), Łódž (Polen), Rio de Janeiro (Brasilien), Tel Aviv (Israel)

See also:

A production by Ruhrtriennale presented in cooperation with Museum Folkwang.
 A coproduction of Harun Farocki Filmproduction and Goethe-Institut. The overall management is conducted by Detlef Gericke-Schönhagen, Goethe-Institut Boston.