Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges, 1988, Harun Farocki

Harun Farocki. Retrospective and Carte Blanche

March 3 to 27, 2006

The works of Harun Farocki form one of the "secret chambers of the heart" in modern cinema. For the last 40 years, Farocki has primarily created documentary film and video essays on life in Germany, on war and revolution, and on the images of the world which are being produced by the modern media.

His films follow the ways in which images assume a life of their own, how they imprint themselves on everyday existence, on manners of speech and how people act. As a kind of German-language counterpart to Jean-Luc Godard, Farocki does not trust a mere "reflection of reality" in his works; he sets out on a search for the "reality of this reflection".

In March, the Film Museum will present the first comprehensive Retrospective of Harun Farocki's film and video oeuvre to be shown in Austria. These 36 examples from a large body of work include poetic film essays (Leben BRD/Life?West Germany, 1990) and feature films (Zwischen zwei Kriegen/Between Two Wars, 1978), as well as imaginative agit-prop films (Nicht löschbares Feuer/Inextinguishable Fire, 1969), works in the manner of Direct Cinema (Schöpfer der Einkaufswelten/The Creators of Shopping Worlds, 2001), film installations (Stilleben/Still Life, 1997), and reflections on film history (Peter Lorre – Das doppelte Gesicht/The Two Faces of Peter Lorre, 1984). The show will also offer numerous works which have not been shown in Austria before.

Aside from his full-length feature films, Farocki has often worked in the small and low-key formats of television. The use of communication channels which are already in place, pursuing surprising links, switching back and forth elegantly between cinema, television, art and science (also in his current capacity as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna) – all of these are elements of a genuinely political film practice in the midst of the total media apparatus.

By staying in motion "with the images" (instead of wearing himself out in a "battle against the images"), Farocki has been able to survive as an autonomous producer, thinker and writer of images. He "writes" films and videos in the same way as Walter Benjamin wrote his studies, essays and notes: moving images turning into a running commentary about the current ways of Western society.

As part of this Retrospective, the Film Museum will also present the series Carte blanche: As in a Mirror. Harun Farocki and Antje Ehmann have selected 14 films by other artists which treat the subject of filmmaking itself: life on the film set, actors and directors in crisis, the full reality and madness of cinema. Through this chamber of mirrors, the myths and the actual practice of film production are multiplied and extended into a sort of "never-ending space".

The Carte blanche stretches from classics of European film (such as Visconti's Bellissima, Fellini's 8 1/2, Fassbinder's Warnung vor einer heiligen Nutte/Beware of a Holy Whore and Jean-Luc Godard's Passion and Le Mépris/Contempt), to works by the American "mavericks" Preston Sturges, Vincente Minnelli and Brian De Palma, and finally to examples from contemporary films by Abbas Kiarostami, Philippe Garrel and Abel Ferrara.


This programme is part of a joint project between the Film Museum and the Generali Foundation. Through April 23, the Generali Foundation will show the exhibition "Cinema like never before" curated by Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki. The filmmaker will be present at the Austrian Film Museum.

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