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Compte rendu

Ouvrage recensé :

Harun Farocki, One Image Doesn't Take the Place of the Previous One, Leonard and Bina
Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal. October 19 - December 1, 2007

par Cheryl Simon

Ciel variable : art, photo, médias, culture, n° 78, 2008, p. 53.

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gallery door. Shorter andsimpler than most
Harun Farocki of Farocki'swork, Dubbingloopsthe infa-
mousclipfrom Martin Scorsese's TaxiDriver
One Image Doesn't Takethe Place of the Previous One (1980) inwhich Travis Bickle issocaught
Leonard and Bina EllenArt Gallery, Montreal up inthe fiction ofthe image that hecan't
October 19- December 1,2007 recognize himself anymore. Eachloopdubs
the legendary lines inanother language :
"Who you lookingat?There's noone here
Harun Farocki : One Image Doesn't Take the pleof Farocki's early "agitprop"film work, Counter-Music (2004) groups corresponding but me" - andthis loopof dubs is looped
PlaceofthePreviousOne,at Concordia Uni- andSection(Schnittstelle) (1995), atransi- imagery around asimilar theme. Pictures and looped again,to spinonendlessly.Si-
versity's Leonard and Bina EllenArt Gallery tionaltwo-channelvideo"self-portrait" that from surveillance cameras trained on labo- multaneously familiar and strange, much
last fall, brought theGerman artist to Mon- featurestheartistdiscussingthe different ratory subjects,city streets,and subway like the identificatory processwithin which
trealfor the first time.Although hehas representationalandorganizationalconsid- platforms,archivalfootage of mid-twenti- Bickle iscaught, recognition and misrecog-
madeover ninety film andvideo works, erations inhisfilmandvideopractices. eth-century factory workers at their tna- nition represent two sidesofthe samecoin
Farocki isnotwell known here,or in North of subject formation.
America,for that matter. The linchpin ina Farocki's concern with the alienation ef-
cluster of linked activities surveying fect of representation tout courtshould not
Farocki's forty-year career, includinganin- bedismissed asmere nostalgia for the loss
ternational conference andafilm retro- of human agency.Instead,it should serve
spective,this exhibition,curated bygallery asacaution to takeall representation seri-
director MichèleThériault, may do much to ously ; not merely asthe meansto anyspe-
change that.' cific representational end, but moreasa
OneImageDoesn'tTakethePlaceof the Pre- cultural artefact,the primary tool and
viousOnetakes itstitle from a statement product ofapolitical economy geared to-
that theartist madeabout the useof multi- ward the removalof human consciousness
ple channels in hisinstallation work. "It's a for the sakeof efficiency.
matter of'soft montage,'" Farockiex-
plained, referringto the simultaneity of 1 The Goethe-Institut Montréal hosteda film
multiple projections."One image doesn't seriesof works from 1986 to 2004 and the
takethe placeofthe previousone,butsup- CanadianCentreforGermanandEuropean Stud-
iesatthe UniversitédeMontréal organizedthe
plements it, reevaluates it,balances it." 2 Internationalcolloquium.RembertHuser,"Nine
Thisstatement alsodescribes the organiza- Minutesinthe Yard : AConversationwithHarun
tional logic ofthe artist's linear, time-based Farocki,"inThomasElsaesser (éd.), Harun Farocki .
film work.Thedualand multiple screen Workingonthe Sight-Lines(Amsterdam : Amsterdam
UniversityPress, 2004), p. 302.
presentations develop logically thedialecti-
calprinciples andconstellation-like schema
>,lupingwhat, for the most part, hasbeena
"found footage" film practice.Single-mind- chines,and more recent documentary
Farocki never approaches hissubjectdi-
edlyconcerned with the socialand political footage of surveillance control rooms with
rectly but arrives morecircuitously, laying
functioning of"the image," Farocki typically technicians at their postsarelaced with
out hiscriticalthemes inclusters arounda
groups visual materialfromdiverse sources clipsfrom DzigaVertov's and Walter
central,often absent, point of concern. The
andof different, moreand lessobviously re- Ruttmann's City Symphony films andele-
third inaseriesofworks addressingopera-
lated phenomena to analyzethe practical ments oftext."ForVertov the day begins
tional imagery,thedual-projection installa-
tion Eye/MachineI I I (2003) weaves found with the production of images.Forusit is
imagery taken from flight simulators, mili- their reproduction." Evacuation from any
tary guidance systems,andvarious robotic direct relation to production is suffered
sensingdevicestogether with instructional equally bytheworker andthe artist, here
films and commercials to factor theex- conceived asacultural worker.
treme alienation effected bythe represen- Thériault's exhibition unfolds inlike fash-
tational operations of post-industrial ion. Referencingthe absent term that links Cheryl Simon isan artist, academic, and cura-
technologies.Though the imagingsystems eachofthe other installations,Workers tor whose current art and research interests in-
arethe overt subject,the evacuation ofhu- Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades (2005) clude explorations of time in media arts and
manity,ofsubjectivity itself, from represen- liesatthe physicalandconceptual heart of collecting and archival practices in contempo-
tational practice isthe absent but defining the exhibition.Composed of arowof rary art. She teaches studio arts at Concordia
term ofthe work. twelve monitors,each playingafilm clip University and cinema + communications at
from oneoftheelevendecadesofcinema, Dawson College.
effects and ideological operations of the the series beginswith the Lumière broth-
contemporary imageworld.Envisioned in ers'film referredto inthework's title and
the artist'swork through what heterms concludes with aclipfrom LarsvonTrier's
"operational" imagery,thisworld of pic- DancerintheDark (2000) ; eachdecade in
tures tends to shapethe sphereof everyday between offers asupplementation andre-
lifeobliquely, butwith clearly definedin- evaluation ofthis modern trope of collec-
strumental purposes andcertain alienating tivity. Linkingtheworld ofcinematothat of
effects : surveillance cameras,industrial ro- theoperational image,thework mixes doc-
botics,computer simulations,and sensing umentary with fiction film ; the selection in-
systems,pictures moreandless directly cludes suchdiverse materialasCharlie
connected to theworld of things : opera- Chaplin's ModernTimes (1936) and
tional pictureswithout operators. Michealangelo Antonioni's Red Desert
Although not aretrospective inthetradi- HarunFarocki (1964), ananonymous documentary film
Counter-Music, 2004, colorvideo, audio
tional sense, Thériault's selection of works from the Moscow National Film Archive
offers ahistoricalandthematic range that Photo :Richard-Max Tremblay. (1912), andaclipfromJean-Marie Straub
sketches acomprehensive account of the and Daniele Huillet's proto-documentary
Section, 1995, colorvideo, audio film TooEarly,TooLate (1981).
artist's oeuvre. In addition to the four re-
installation with two monitors.
cent installation works that aremake up Photo ! Paul Smith. Both images courtesy of the That such imagery hasoperational effects
the bulk of theexhibition,the show in- Leonard 8c Bina Ellen Gallery, Montreal. isillustrated brilliantly inDubbing (2006),
cludes Inextinguishable Fire (1969), anexam- thework that meetsthe spectator at the