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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Harun Farocki at Raven Row: Against What? Against Whom?

Contributor Hannah Osborne saunters into Raven and is enthralled by video artist Farocki's arresting montages

Written by Hannah Osborne

Copenhagen Climate Summit: Lord Monckton rap battles Al Gore

“It’s freedom they’re plundering, viagra sale website and you’re the scare-monger king!” cries global warming sceptic Lord Monckton to former American Vice President Al Gore, store during their furious rap battle over climate change. Hold on… Lord Monckton and Al Gore in a rap battle?! It happened! Sort of. In this ingenious video by The Juice Media you can see how it might play out if Monckton and Gore were to get down wit da kids and engage in a juvenile debate over the issues of climate change and the Copenhagen summit. This video in particular is part of a series called Rap News – with Robert Foster, order which was born in October this year, other titles in the series include ‘Nasa bombs the moon’ and ‘Obama receives Nobel War is Peace prize’. Rap News was spawned from the artistic and philosophical minds of Giordano and Hugo, who reside in Melborne Australia, where they met after moving from the UK and Italy. Together they write and produce the show; Hugo, an MC/spoken-word performer/poet and actor creates the rhymes and impersonates the various public figures featured in the shows. Giordano, a writer, historian, academic, music composer and founder of Juice Media directs using themes and narratives based on his deep-seated interests and ideas about history, the media, the environment, social justice, indigenous peoples and politics.

They’re an intriguing pair, over 1000 are subscribed to their You Tube channel, and amongst the comments on their page is “What a talent mate” and “You make me proud to be Australian”. With the Copenhagen summit underway I have a few questions for the madcap duo, who going by our email correspondence are not only talented but super friendly.

goremonk

So, why rap?

Chuck D once said that Rap was the CNN of the ghetto. We figure, why CNN? Why not a quality news channel like DemocracyNow.org?

How did you 2 first come to work together? What is your relationship like?

We met over common interests in politics, nature and medieval Italian poetry. Our relationship is great. We sit around in the garden and have brainstorming sessions over homegrown salads.

Your raps are driven by politics, environmental and social issues. Tell me more about your views and motivations?

Our view is that the mainstream media is manifestly almost completely failing in its duty to inform the populace of world events in a measured and contextualised manner, and our motivation is therefore to rectify that in a small way, helping people join the dots between the quotidian occurences, and the broader picture. We are putting into practice that wise adage, ‘become the media’, for, as Jello Biafra famously stated, ‘we demand fair and more accurate balanced news coverage – and if we don’t get it… we’ll make it ourselves!’

algore

Hugo, you impersonate various public figures in the video, who is your favourite person to be and why?

So far the only real public figures i’ve impersonated have been Lord Monckton and Al Gore. Out of those two, Lord Monckton came the most naturally – i finally got to use those skills from ‘Latin For Pseudo-Scientists 101′. Of all public figures to impersonate, my favourite has to be David Bowie when he does the Goblin King in Labyrinth: “Go back to your room… play with your toys!” and so on.

What are your hopes for COP15?

That it will be a turning point. Wherever we’re headed, the future’s not looking too good right now. This seems like a good opportunity to take a break from the reckless ride we’ve been on for the past few centuries and reassess our situation; a chance to consider that we may not have thought all this through that well from the outset: Civilization? – what self-respecting civilization would totally trash it’s own home? And climate is just one of the massive challenges we now face; yet it’s the surest sign that ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark’ and what better place to rectify this than in Copenhagen?!

Monckton

So, we hope it doesn’t become another Kyoto – with the little time we have left we simply don’t have that option. We hope it won’t legitimise false solutions and myths such as ‘clean coal’ or emission-trading schemes – these just encourage a business-as-usual mentality, and if it hadn’t taken as many as 15 COP’s since the ’92 Earth Summit in Rio, then perhaps these wouldn’t be a case of too little too late. We hope the media does its job and keeps its eye on the ball and doesn’t degenerate into coverage of smashed windows and protester arrests.

But above all we hope that COP15 won’t all come down to money and be limited to market-based solutions – we need a real supra-economic movement to spring from Copenhagen which will carry us through this. It can’t just be about hatching new technologies but also about regaining old knoweldge. We are going to have to finally remember that our economy and society has to adapt to the planet, to the law of the land, and not the other way around. This is the simple fundamental lesson which we are going to have to (re)learn. Whether we do so the easy or the hard way, is what will be decided in these coming days in Copenhagen.

rapnews

What are Juice Media’s future plans? What’s next?

Although this project has existed for several years in our imaginations, we’re really only just setting out on this journey and, well, we’re still figuring out what to pack in the suitcases.

TheJuiceMedia itself is a broader prtoject which seeks to facilitate access to the voices of Indigenous people – particularly from Aboriginal Australia, since that’s where we are. So we’ll carry on working on doing what we’re doing and look to keep the information flowing. As far as Rap News episodes, we are looking forward to covering many more topics, as they come up. First on the cards is a website where we can set up our little campfire in the world-wide-web, light up some hyperlinks and start foraging for new stories.

We’re quite clear about what won’t come next: we’re not hoping to get on TV! The way it is, we encourage people to turn off their sponsor-saturated, Murdoch/Berlusconi-owned mega-networks and tune in to alternative, independent media sources. The internet seems to be the only medium left to us to retain some form of global participation in the production of meaning in today’s society and we intend to dedicate all of our creativity to making the most of it – while we still have it. The more people use this vital medium, the less the likelihood of it being hijacked, like what’s happened to TV. That would truly leave us in the dark(ages), once again.

rapnewslogo

Check out all Juice Media’s Videos here
Farocki4Workers Leaving Factory © Harun Farocki

Harun Farocki is a strange sort of a person. Although he has been making films since 1967, order he is a fairly new addition to the artisan world of video. Developing film as a creative medium since the mid 1990’s, look his Against What? Against Whom? exhibition at the Raven Row gallery in East London feels very much retrospective. It is as if he is inadvertently peering back across his filmic history and showing his audience what he found out.

I sauntered in on a Friday afternoon and was surprised to find the exhibition space bustling with spectators. People from distant walks of life mosied from room to room, giving the labyrinth like gallery an almost homely feel. Picking up a leaflet and heading straight into the first room to see Eye/Machine III, I was somewhat at ease. Unfortunately, the first installation was not an entertaining piece. Two simultaneous projections of computerised views of bombs and aircrafts – and at twenty four minutes long, left me concerned that I had eight more to watch.

Farocki2© Harun Farocki

Fortunately, this was not the case. As the reels of the following pieces unravelled, the exhibition became more evocative and enthralling. The second piece documenting the archaic bricklaying techniques of the third world juxtaposed with more modern methods was a bridge into Farocki’s extensive knowledge of how film works. And indeed how to display film in an artistic approach.

Workers Leaving Factory © Harun Farocki

The two most outstanding works of the exhibition would have the most elite cinephile astounded. The first; Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades took on the Lumière Brothers original film, extending their original premise through the past century to show the anamorphism of the working class. Intersecting works across eleven screens, Farocki includes sights from film greats such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and, most recently, Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. Including headphones for sensory immersion, each headset contained a different score. I was blessed with some jovial and jaunty music (I’m assuming from the Chaplin piece but couldn’t be certain). The whole experience of the piece was like a historical document; not only of workers leaving a factory, but also of how filmmakers over time have captured this banal event to create something extraordinary.

inextinguishable Fire © Harun Farocki

The second, Feasting or Flying, made in collaboration with Antje Ehmann, follows the tragic hero in Hollywood. The six screen set is haunting and heart wrenching. Concentrating on male protagonist suicide, it is extremely fluid, spilling from screen to screen along with an overture of highly resonant and mournful scores. The whole experience signifies and remembers tragedy, with saturnine morose. Along with clips, posters and screens of red black inserts determine film, director and how the hero ended his life. Leaving the viewer subdued but deeply attentive, the piece is arresting and thought provoking, and worth the trip in itself.

Farocki1© Harun Farocki

Farocki once said ‘I always use more than one image, I compare the images, to see what they have in common, it is not a linear image. It’s a form of ‘soft montage,’ taking one image ‘a,’ finding it’s not quite right, and replacing it with ‘b’’. The exhibition at Raven Row is an epitome of Farocki’s way of thinking. Multiple screens; a continual flow of disorientating images, occasionally bombarding, but predominately enthralling. Farocki twists and manipulates images to create a visually provoking and perplexing set of works.

Farocki3© Harun Farocki

The exhibition runs from 19 November 2009 to 7 February 2010 at Raven Row, Raven Row, 56 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LS. T +44 (0)20 7377 4300, info@ravenrow.org. Open Wednesday to Sunday 11am–6pm.

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