Antje Ehmann & Harun Farocki
Antje Ehmann born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, in 1968.
She lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
Harun Farocki born Harun El Usman Faroqhi in Neutitschein, Sudetenland, Germany [now Czech Republic], in 1944; died in Berlin, Germany, in 2014.
In their extraordinary project Labour in a Single Shot, the distinguished filmmaker Harun Farocki and his partner and collaborator Antje Ehmann chose to investigate the nature and conditions of labor in the epoch of globalization. “Work” was the focus they proposed to groups of filmmakers assembled in workshops in fifteen cities across the globe: work, whether paid or unpaid, improvised or protocol driven, immaterialized in the glass towers of the global offshore services sector, or rendered palpable in the sweatshops of the transnationally dispersed manufacturing industry. The project’s formal constraints were simple and precise: each filmmaker was to produce a video showing people at work, one to two minutes long, and framed as a single shot; the camera could be fixed or traveling, but no cuts were permitted. These strict parameters challenged the participating filmmakers to develop engaging choreographies of time, motion, and narrative. From its beginning in 2011, Labour in a Single Shot counts among its formal and conceptual points of departure Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon, an early single-shot film made by the Lumiere brothers, pioneers of cinema, in 1895.
With their collaborators, Ehmann and Farocki researched the unpredictable varieties of contemporary labor and their locations within the emergent urban topographies of the turbulent present. The fifteen workshops resulted in ninety videos. In addition, the project includes fifteen videos, one from each selected city, in which the filmmakers have recorded workers leaving their workplaces. These videos propose a direct critical homage to the vision and discipline of the Lumiere brothers, while also mapping the emotional and structural differences between labor as it is imagined today, and as it was imagined in the late nineteenth century. Labour in a Single Shot builds into an anthology detailing the relationship between work and workers, encompassing the spectrum from alienation to pleasure. While the selected results of the workshops were presented in a series of exhibitions starting in February 2013, the project concluded in 2015 with exhibitions in Boston and Berlin. Its afterlife takes the form of an online catalogue, which will include all of the videos completed in the fifteen workshops.