November 2017: Instructions on how to Pull off Police Helmets

For the Berlin retrospective of Harun Farocki’s work, we made an effort to find and digitize as many hitherto unknown films from the archives of television channels as possible. A few gaps in the filmography remained – including the two short spots INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PULL OFF POLICE HELMETS and UNTITLED OR: NIXON COMES TO BERLIN, both made in 1969.

Farocki presumed the films to be lost. Surprisingly, they resurfaced just now, in November 2017. Thomas Giefer, dffb student of the year 1967 and one of the 18 students relegated in 1968, found them among the films he kept from the time.

Here’s an image from INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PULL OFF POLICE HELMETS, filmed from the Steenbeck by Giefer.

Farocki about the film: »According to Fritz J. Raddatz, Rosa Luxemburg cried when she read Marx’s concept of value. I was just as disappointed by the Cine-Tracts made in May 1968 in Paris and shown shortly afterwards in Berlin.

I must have been expecting something more like television news coverage; in much the same way, each crowd which saw our handbill films during those years was similarly disappointed. Because we didn’t make ‘real’ films, as my mother called them, it seemed to them that their cause wasn’t being acknowledged in suitably official form, something which workers’ films and Fassbinder were later to achieve.

We made this spot during one of the many breaks in filming a somewhat reckless film about playgroups by Susanne Beyeler. Wolfgang Gremm stripped naked on a flat roof and played a policeman. We played on the anti-humanist provocation of showing, purely technically, how to fight a policeman, but didn’t go so far as to use an androgynous, long-haired actor – something which Gremm, the fattest and shortest-haired of us all, accepted with a grin.«

November 30th, 2017, Archive / Showcase
Interface

Sara Ahmed on the perfomativity of disgust (from The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2004): “To name something as disgusting is to transfer the stickiness of the word ‘disgust’ to an object, which henceforth becomes generated as the very thing that is spoken. The relationship between the stickiness of the sign and the stickiness of the object is crucial to the performativity of disgust as well as the apparent resistance of disgust reactions to ‘newness’ in terms of the generation of different kinds of objects. The object that is generated as a disgusting (bad) object through the speech act comes to stick. It becomes sticky and acquires a fetish quality, which then engenders its own effects.”

November 7th, 2020, Tom

David Graeber (1961-2020) on What Would It Take (from his The Democracy Project. A History, a Crisis, a Movement, 2013, p. 193): “We have little idea what sort of organizations, or for that matter, technologies, would emerge if free people were unfettered to use their imagination to actually solve collective problems rather than to make them worse. But the primary question is: how do we even get there? What would it take to allow our political and economic systems to become a mode of collective problem solving rather than, as they are now, a mode of collective war?”

September 7th, 2020, Tom

T.J. Demos on why cultural practitioners should never surrender, via tranzit.sk:  “For artists, writers, and curators, as art historians and teachers, the meaning-production of an artwork is never finished, never fully appropriated and coopted, in my view, and we should never surrender it; the battle over significance is ongoing. We see that battle rise up in relation to racist and colonial monuments these days in the US, the UK, and South Africa. While the destruction of such monuments results from and is enabling of radical politics, it’s still not enough until the larger institutions that support and maintain their existence as well as the continuation of the politics they represent are also torn down. This is urgent as well in the cultural sphere, including the arts institutions, universities, art markets, discursive sphere of magazines and journals, all in thrall to neoliberalism, where we must recognize that it’s ultimately inadequate to simply inject critical or radical content into these frameworks, which we know excel at incorporating those anti-extractivist expressions into further forms of cultural capital and wealth accumulation. What’s required is more of the building of nonprofit and community-based institutions, organizing radical political horizons and solidarity between social formations.”

August 21st, 2020, Tom
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