End to End: Framing the European Financial Crisis
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Just over a decade into the 21st century and one has the pervasive feeling that we’ve been here before. The ebb and flow of the global economic systems that push and pull against the arenas of cultural production is a dizzying déjà vu. As we are now in the midst of another great global recession, it becomes crucial to reflect on the intertwined history of economic empires as they rise and fall and the social and cultural sectors that respond to their inevitable shifts. Duncan Campbell’s Arbeit and Hito Steyerl’s In Free Fall are two such reflections, each capturing a piece in the puzzle of Europe’s economic folly–cautionary tales of the post-Gilded Age.
Organized in conjunction with Jeremy Deller: Joy in People at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.
ICA thanks The Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation and The Spiegel
Fund to Support Contemporary Culture and Visual Arts.
dir. Duncan Campbell, UK, 2011, video, 39 mins
Comprised almost entirely of still photographs, Campbell’s Arbeit is, on the surface, a portrait of German economist Hans Tietmeyer. Tietmeyer, former head of Deutsche Bundesbank and chief architect of the Euro, is both brought into focus and obscured, allowing for a more nuanced investigation into recent events leading up to Europe’s economic decline. Campbell’s film captures the elusive historical facts as they continue to inform a very uncertain future.
In Free Fall
dir. Hito Steyerl, Germany, 2010, 34 mins
In Free Fall incorporates a trio of works: Before the Crash, After the Crash and Crash, which tell the story of the current global economic crisis through the example of an aeroplane junkyard in the Californian desert. The aeroplane junkyard reveals the anatomy of all sorts of crashes: both fictional and real. This is an investigation of planes as they are parked during the economic downturn, stored and recycled, revealing unexpected connections between economy, violence and spectacle. An example of this is the Boeing 4X-JYI, first acquired by film director Howard Hughes for TWA, which then flew for the Israeli Airforce before it was blown up for the Hollywood blockbuster Speed. But the economic crisis doesn’t stop short of affecting the film industry either.
Through intertwined narratives of people, planes and places Steyerl reveals cycles of capitalism incorporating and adapting to the changing status of the commodity, but also points at a horizon beyond this endless repetition.