Places of memory set in stone are the subject addressed by Harun Farocki. Transmission examines the pull and adoration of monuments scattered all over the world that have become goals for pilgrims and tourists and now serve to meet a whole range of different needs, from personal memory to spiritual enlightenment and religious sentiment. Farocki’s journey starts from the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, a wall of black granite engraved with the names of all the 58,249 Americans killed in the Vietnam War. Thousands of people visit it every day, touch the letters and trace the names of family and friends in an attempt to establish a link between their own lives and the past. Other objects of pilgrimage – including the foot of the statue of the Apostle in St. Peter’s and the Bocca della Verità in Rome as well as the devil’s footprint in the Frauenkirche in Munich and the monument in the Buchenwald concentration camp – meet the same need for understanding and purification. Stone is the material in which the collective memory of a life or an event in the past is immortalized and becomes an object of worship. At the same time, the memory of thousands of visitors is preserved in the races of wear it displays. —farocki-film.de
Harun Farocki was born in Novi Jicín in 1944 in what is today the Czech Republic. He studied at the German Cinematic and Television Academy (DFFB) in Berlin, from which he was expelled in 1968 for political reasons. In addition to writing theoretical texts, he has scripted numerous films and television productions. His work was shown at Documenta 12 in Kassel and in numerous international retrospectives and has received many awards.
Farocki’s early films are marked by ideas of a cultural revolution as formulated by the increasingly radical Left of the time and are explicitly developed as effective means of political propaganda. In this way, “Inextinguishable Fire” (1968/69) seizes upon the Vietnam War as one of the quintessential themes of the student movement. While his politically-motivated educational films subject the audience to an analytical and consciousness-raising agenda, the subsequent auctorial, essayistic, and documentary films call for a more active reception on… read more