The selected films document humans in their lived environments, with a particular emphasis on factory work and the inventive means used by filmmakers to touch upon the human reality of industrial life. The program explores the playful ways in which artists draw upon pseudo-ethnographic means in which to observe others. At the same time, it considers recent forays into the artistic field by anthropologists and reflects upon the artistic dimension to ethnographic filmmaking.
Supported by MFA Curating, Goldsmiths and Goldsmiths Annual Fund.
BEN RIVERS, Sack Barrow, 2011, 16 mm, 21 minutes
Sack Barrow documents the working life of an electroplating factory in its last months of operation. Filming amongst dilapidated industrial equipment and machinery, Ben Rivers records the daily routines of the factory's employees. Merging fictional narrative with observational footage, the work serves as a deeply atmospheric portrait of an industry and community in decline. In the third section of the film, passages from the novel The Green Child by Herbert Read are read aloud, transforming Rivers' vision of the factory into an other-worldly and dreamlike realm.
CAO FEI, Whose Utopia?, 2006, video, 20 minutes
Whose Utopia? was commissioned by Siemens Art Program and produced in collaboration between Cao Fei and the employees of the OSRAM lighting factory in Guangdong Province, China. Cao Fei researched the background and aspirations of the factory workers in order to uncover the human stories of the factory's workforce. Divided into 3 parts, the film moves from immersive footage of the light bulb production process to scenes of employees performing their dreams on the factory floor, and a final chapter depicting workers paused at their tasks, turning their gaze directly to the camera.
DARIA MARTIN and MASSIMILIANO MOLLONA, Steel Town, 2013, video, 23 minutes
Steel Town was shot in the town of Volta Redonda, Brazil, home to the biggest steel mill in Latin America, Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN). Moving between fact and fiction, the film features a telenovela drama performed by local residents based on Augusto Boal's 'Theatre of the Oppressed' technique. Produced in collaboration between artist filmmaker Daria Martin and anthropologist Massimiliano Mollona, the film provides a rich, visual portrait of Volta Redonda and its inhabitants, building a critical dialogue between ethnography, art, documentary and activism.
About the filmmakers and contributors