We see a street through a surveillance camera. A crowd of working people are out and about—informants, money transporters, messengers, street cleaners, sausage vendors. Private and state security agents can be seen in the background, aiming at pedestrians from an enclosure. Now and again, a pedestrian is hit and falls to the ground. A house is raided by police officers. Another security agent poisons his own dog. A poem is superimposed over the scene:
Everything that doesn’t blind us is real.
How can we show you investments in action,
or the movements caused by capital—
the privileges, the dependencies, the dreams of elimination,
the capacity for betrayal in each and every one of us?
How can we show you capital flows in detail,
their source, course, and estuary pockets—
who is allowed to work for them, at what pay, and when they’re laid off?
But if we draft a picture of a machine
that simulates the market economy,
you will shut your eyes.
First you will shut your eyes to the pictures,
then to the memories,
then to the facts and correlations.
We can give you only a rough idea
of how the market economy works.
That’s from The Crooked Paw (Die Krumme Pranke, 1999), an animated film we shot with Amelie Wulffen and Josef Strau about the privatization of Berlin’s public spaces. We were witnessing this destruction on a daily basis—the everyday disenfranchisement and repression. In the meantime, a wave of neo-national ideologization was sweeping the country, particularly the art world. We perceived it as a new beginning.
Our street-scene poem plagiarizes a passage from Harun Farocki’s The Inextinguishable Fire (Nicht Löschbares Feuer, 1969), a film that deals with the impossibility of describing the effects of napalm. In a memorable scene, Farocki outlines the monstrous abyss between description and fact, in a manner both existential and banal, by putting out a cigarette on his arm.
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