“Most narrative films take place in that part of life where work has been left behind.” Harun Farocki’s condemnation of cinema’s unwillingness to represent labour finds echoes in present-day political discussions about the struggles and persistent invisibility of labour in public space. Undocumented labour, the weakening of union organizing, and the decoupling of work from physical space in the era of the Internet, are phenomena that have irreversibly altered everyday life.
At the same time, a new vocabulary capturing the expansions of labour – affective labour, care work, women’s work, immaterial and precarious labour – has made it possible to deepen our understanding of what ought to be considered as labour and where this labour happens. In the same vein, a growing number of filmmakers are showing a commitment to render the spaces where work takes place today visible again. Despite arguments to the contrary, film and the moving image have always been concerned with the processes of labour, including the work of cinema itself. If film theorists such as Jean Louis Comolli chastised cinema’s distancing approach to spaces of labour, it could be argued that they had in mind a limited notion of the workspace. In other words, whilst the space in front of the factory has enjoyed relatively little screen time in film’s history, spaces of labour hold an enduring relationship with the medium.
This conference will tackle the historically shifting relationship between cinema and the representation of labour spaces and will reflect on the renewed attention to the workspace in today’s art cinema and documentary production.
An ICI Berlin event, organized by Saima Akhtar, Rosa Barotsi, Clio Nicastro, in cooperation with Forum Transregionale Studien, Irmgard Coninx Stiftung, ACUD Kino, and re:work
The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.