Born Harun El Usman Faroqhi in Neutitschein, Sudetenland, Germany [now Czech Republic], in 1944; died in Berlin, Germany, in 2014.
He lived and worked in Berlin.
One of Germany’s most acclaimed filmmakers, Harun Farocki built up a body of work comprising more than 120 films and installations over a period of nearly five decades. During the late 1960s, Farocki’s agitprop-style films, including the landmark work NICHT löschbares Feuer (NOT Inextinguishable Fire) (1969), addressed such crises as the Vietnam War. By the late 1970s he was directing features informed by a Marxist worldview and developing a cinematic critique of capital. In the 1980s and ’90s, he directed a number of essay films and documentaries. Whether Die Schulung (Indoctrination) (1986) or Stillleben (Still Life) (1997), in these works he investigated a society being manipulated into a dependency on the mechanisms of advanced capitalism: the commodity, the advertisement, and a state apparatus that regards citizenship as a matter of training in resource management and interpersonal protocols rather than a mode of access to equity, participation, and justice. Throughout, Farocki made adroit use of images and sound culled from diverse sources, including industrial documentaries, surveillance footage, and military simulation environments.
Born to an Indian father and German mother during World War II in 1944 in what was then the Sudetenland and is today the Czech Republic, Farocki moved with his parents to India and Indonesia before the family returned to Germany in 1958, settling in Hamburg. In 1962, as a rebellious young man, he moved to West Berlin, later joining the German Film and Television Academy there. The Academy expelled him after he and other radical students occupied the school in May 1968. Through the 1960s and ’70s, he insisted on an austere, politically engaged approach to cinematic form and rejected the preoccupation with aesthetic autonomy that characterized the directors of the New German Cinema, who dominated that period. While collaborating with his fellow producer and director Hartmut Bitomsky on a cinematic translation of Marx’s Das Kapital, Farocki proved himself an unrepentant exponent of May 1968, stating that their ambition was to “make film scientifically and make science politically.” In recent years, Farocki had moved away from cinema and toward the gallery and the museum, presenting such installations as Auge / Machine (Eye / Machine) I, II, and III (2001–2003). However, he remained as experimental in his approach to the radicalization of cinematic form as he was vigilant against capital’s ability to neutralize the political impulse through a fetishizing of the aesthetic. The 56th Biennale di Venezia will pay tribute to Farocki’s prolific and consistently poignant filmography by showing an atlas of his eighty-seven films in the exhibition.
All the World’s Futures presents Atlas of Harun Farocki’s Filmography, an anthology of the work of the late artist and filmmaker Harun Farocki. The presentation comprises Farocki’s complete films, which have been restored and are presented in chronological order on separate screens; black screens signify films that have been lost or not yet digitized. Over the course of the exhibition, newly discovered and converted films will be added to the presentation. Every day, a different film from Farocki’s distinguished body of work is continuously screened in the screening space. The daily films follow each other in chronological sequence. The screenings recommence with the first film each time the complete films have been presented. In addition to the complete films, the anthology includes Farocki’s notebooks and issues of the magazine Filmkritik, of which he was the editor from 1974 until 1984. The ongoing restoration and subtitling of Harun Farocki’s complete films has been made possible by the generous support of the Goethe-Institut.