Goethe in Venice Special Honour for Harun Farocki

Stalin double at work: Labour in a Single Shot was Farocki’s last great work
Stalin double at work: Labour in a Single Shot was Farocki’s last great work | Screenshot: Farocki/Ehmann

Harun Farocki, Alexander Kluge and a chorus of dying languages: This year, the Goethe-Institut is being represented at the Biennale in Venice in multiple projects. One was even honoured by the Biennale jury with a Special Mention.

Until 22 November 2015, the international art world looks to Venice. The international art exhibition held there very two years is one of the world’s most renowned. The Goethe-Institut is involved in a number of projects this year. For the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia with the title All The World’s Futures, this year’s director, Okwui Enwezor, chose three works associated with the Goethe-Institut: Harun Farocki’s complete works, which were digitalized with help from the Goethe-Institut, Farocki’s last major participatory project Labour in a Single Shot and Alexander Kluge’s new production of his film News from Ideological Antiquity, which was subtitled by the Goethe-Institut.

The artist Harun Farocki, who passed away last year, was posthumously honoured. In addition to two Golden and one Silver Lion, the jury of the 56th Biennale decided to assign three Special Mentions to artists – one of them to Farocki. According to the jury, the director was “a seminal figure in post-war cinema.” The presentation at the Biennale makes his highly influential work accessible to a larger public.

The works by Farocki have been digitalized in high quality and are all being presented for the first time on 86 monitors in the central exhibition space in stages by the end of the Biennale. In addition, one film at a time will be presented in a specially constructed cinema. The Biennale is also showing Labour in a Single Shot, which Farocki produced together with Antje Ehmann with the participation of fifteen Goethe-Instituts. Four hundred single films from fifteen places and five continents are put in a spatial form as miniature films and form a visual encyclopaedia of global labour conditions in the 21st century created by artistic means.

In News from Ideological Antiquity , the German filmmaker Alexander Kluge created a kind of arcades project on the interrelations of film history, the labour movement and the criticism of capitalism. Kluge composes a many-voiced approach to the modern classic Capital by Karl Marx and memorializes a failed film project by Sergei Eisenstein of 1927. At the Venice Biennale, a newly edited version of the six-hour masterpiece will be projected on three screens. In cooperation with Alexander Kluge, the Goethe-Institut produced a DVD boxed set with English subtitles.

In the Latin American pavilion, the Istituto Italo-Latino Americano is showing Indigenous Voices – Voces Indígenas with support from the Goethe-Institut. The sound installation from 17 artists’ perspectives deals with the endangered linguistic diversity on the continent. About one third of the roughly six hundred indigenous languages are acutely threatened with extinction. The exhibition, curated by the director of the Goethe-Institut Rio de Janeiro, Alfons Hug, lends voices to these languages and will later tour twelve South American cities.