[Screening]: Film program (X)-trACTION with Cathy Lee Crane, July 29, 2022, Arsenal Cinema

Harun Farocki Institut presents two evenings with films by the American filmmaker Cathy Lee Crane on the occasion of her current Harun Farocki Residency in Berlin, supported by the Goethe-Institut. Since 1994 Crane has crafted lyrical films of speculative history. She has also collaborated extensively with filmmakers, including Harun Farocki, with whom she researched and filmed for the installation and film project “Prison Images” in California.

The borderlands is a recurring theme in the Berlin presentation of Crane’s films with the international premiere of her feature-length documentary CROSSING COLUMBUS (2020) on July 27, and the screening of the short film TERRESTRIAL SEA (2022) as part of the collaborative film program (X)-trACTION on July 29. Both films build on Crane’s long standing historical investigation on the western boundary between the United States of Mexico and the United States of America, which also manifests in the ongoing multiple platform hybrid film series DRAWING THE LINE, one iteration of which will also be presented as a 14-channel installation from July 15-24 by the Harun Farocki Institut in an independent project space in Berlin-Wedding.

In the program (X)-trACTION, a collaborative of five media artists including Crane share their latest works to reflect on and maybe even destroy the term “extraction.” By examining the technical and the common use of the term, they also ponder their position as artists who grapple with how they extract images, ideas, and stories from their subjects both human and geographical.

July 29, 2022
8 p.m.

The films:
The Smoke Rides on the Wind
Dir.: Erin Wilkerson, USA, 2021, digital file, 13 min
The Loyalty League
Dir.: Laurie McKenna, USA, 2020, digital file, 4 min
100 Partially Obscured Views / 100 Vistas Parcialmente Oscurecidas
Dir.: Nicole Antebi, USA, 2022, digital file, 21 min
terrestrial sea
Dir.: Cathy Lee Crane, USA, 2022, USA, digital file, 14 min
Ancient Sunshine
Dir.: Jason Livingston, USA, 2020, digital file, 19 min
Dir.: Laurie McKenna, USA, 2022, digital file, 5 min

and other films

Guests: Cathy Lee Crane (in-person), Jason Livingston, Laurie McKenna, Nicole Antebi, and Erin Wilkerson (remote)

We are at a juncture where there is no way we can avert our attention from the earth and the dispossession of its peoples at the hands of capital. Can complex degradation be distilled down to the primary issue of extraction? Extraction is the taking and the pulling of material from an original place and the subsequent conversion of that material into a productive agent; another form for a purpose: oil into energy, human energy into profits. The earth continues to offer, in its cyclical manner, all its renewable and nonrenewable aspects despite it being drained to its core. (Cathy Lee Crane)

(X)-trACTION is a collaborative of five artists/filmmakers founded in 2021 whose first initial program of short poetic documentary films engaging with histories from the US American West began at the Central School Project in Bisbee, Arizona in January. It then continued at Cornell Cinema in Ithaca, New York in March. For the Arsenal screening in July in Berlin, the collaborative invited local communities to contribute observations of spaces from daily life that reveal “plunder or refuge” (see Open Call here). These contributions are included in the program as interstitial seams that make their way through the sequence of their own films to form a meta mash-up deposit concerned for our climate, our workers, our history and future–the beauty and the failures. Whereas the logic of extraction is violently deliberate, the operative logic of this generative media work [aka today’s program] is generous, chance-based, and playful.

Mid-century postcards, front and back, offer invaluable if obscured views in Nicole Antebi’s archival re-animation of Roberto López Díaz’s depictions of la frontera. Geography plays across multiple enactments in Cathy Lee Crane’s video, which asserts the primacy of water and migration in the dust of militarized landscapes. Laurie McKenna conjures desert punk power in an aggregate of memory and charcoal, and grounds national rupture in a sonic diary. Erin Wilkerson and Jason Livingston, in their contributions, draw poetic power lines through industry, reminding us that extraction, for all its local magnetism and metal lures, is a view into international dynamics.

For this Berlin edition, (X)-trACTION wrote a manifesto as part of the collaboration between the Harun Farocki Institut and the Berliner Gazette’s project After Extractivism which is available here on their media partner’s website NON.

July 1st, 2022 — Projects / Event

George Edwards (Zetkin Collective) on war, nationalism and the “anti-climate lobby” (via Arts of the Working Class): “The latest prognosis of this particular war was spelt out in a flurry of reports from the IPCC; the most recent, described as ‘an atlas of human suffering’ by the chief of the UN, demanded ‘rapid, deep and immediate’ emissions cuts in all sectors to ensure an inhabitable planet for all. In step with the science, many wish this conflict to mark the beginning of an intensified programme of decarbonization, ridding economies of not only Russian, but all fossil fuels, wherever their geological source. But whilst political leaders scramble abroad to secure new sources of fossil fuels – sweet-talking sheiks and summoning LNG terminals from the ground – a resourceful and committed cohort, let’s call them the anti-climate lobby, refuse to accept this diagnosis. The partakers in the fossil industry have seized upon this crisis, sensing it as an opportunity to enlarge and entrench economic interests rooted in fossil fuels. As the course of action prescribed by the IPCC imperils this line of business, the attempts to secure fresh investments in fossil fuel infrastructures, to lock-in production and secure profits for the coming decades may feel all the more pressing. The solutions they pose also fit within the national frame and it is with nationalist political forces that they find their most ardent allies.”

July 31st, 2022

The fundamental difference that we face in Europe at the moment between the Western approach characterized by the pursuit of peace and the Eastern one focused on liberation and independence poses a dramatic challenge – in order to survive and progress, democracy as a political regime has to be capable of defending itself also in a military way.” Armed Democracy revolves around the concepts of imperialism, liberation, fascism, autocracy, revolution, and militarization in pursuit of the world to come on Europe’s burnt out land. Conceived by the Kyiv Biennial and Biennale Warszawa from the East Europe Biennial Alliance, this special public program, curated by Vasyl Cherepanyn within the 2nd edition of Biennale Warszawa, the program is a first part of the series organized by the East Europe Biennial Alliance discussing Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine and taking place in Warsaw, Prague, Kassel, and Riga over the summer and fall of 2022.

Olena Lyubchenko on Whiteness, Expropriation, War, and Social Reproduction in Ukraine (via LeftEast): “[…] when we hear on the news that ‘Ukraine is fighting a European war’ and ‘Ukraine is defending Europe’, amid images of fleeing ‘poor white’ women with children prioritized over racialized ‘Others’, ‘Ukraine’ is being made ‘white’ in the global imaginary. That is, “the injunction to ‘return to Europe’ by way of Europeanization is enabled and conditioned on the mythologies of Western civilization, and that Europeanization at once marks (promulgates) and unmarks (naturalizes) racial whiteness” [Nadezhda Husakouskaya and Randi Gressgård]. The paradox is that Europe’s existence as such has only been possible precisely because of the exploitation of global working peoples through expropriation of resources and today neoliberal economic reforms and reproduced by feminized labour.”

Vasyl Cherepanyn about the “inertness, hiding behind the European Wall” (via L’Internationale): “Many Western institutions that have been claiming ‘radical political engagement’ for years, have simply resorted to a white cube radicalism and self-satisfying humanitarianism, too afraid of acting politically beyond their comfort zone and unsettling their publics and authorities by attempting to affect the decision-making process regarding the Ukrainian cause.”

May 28th, 2022

Tatsiana Shchurko on the War in Ukraine, Entangled Imperialisms, and Transnational Feminist Solidarity, via LeftEast (May 2, 2022): “[An] uneven knowledge production and the many implications of the war against Ukraine reveal the dire need to develop a feminist anti-capitalist critique of multiple imperialisms. This language should grow from within the occupied and suppressed communities of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. An anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist feminist positionality grasps that the local is part of a global in an effort to build transnational connections of mutual aid and support against state and corporate violence. For example, statements of solidarity with Ukraine expressed by the International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia and Native American communities along with the anti-war feminist march in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on March 8, 2022, pointing out that the war in Ukraine should be of concern for a broad transnational community, may serve as instrumental examples of alternative anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist solidarities that stretch beyond state regulations and macro-politics and foreground decolonial perspectives, necessary in addressing entanglements of multiple imperialisms. Such solidarities also bring to light hidden interconnections of the past that allowed for distant communities to survive and support each other against the violence of imperialist intervention and its attendant capitalist exploitation. Thus, the march in Bishkek reminds of the socialist roots of the International Women’s Day to call for internationalist, intersectional, class solidarity against imperialism and militarism.”

Vasyl Cherepanyn on that “It’ll take more than tanks to ease Germany’s guilt” (via Politico): “Since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Germany has been imposing neocolonial optics on its Eastern European ‘peripheries,’ and on the post-Soviet space in particular, where Ukraine was long considered a gray buffer zone about which the EU was ‘deeply concerned.’ Germany didn’t bother itself much with differentiating between former Soviet countries’ pasts. Even until recently, any Ukrainian agenda in Germany was often ‘balanced’ with a Russian perspective, so as to not exclude the latter by any means.”

An unnamed anarchist and art scholar, who joined the Territorial Defense Forces, quoted by Olexii Kuchanskyi in an essay on “Digital Leviathan and His Nuclear Tail” (via Your Art and e-flux notes): “At dawn, Dima and I talked about cinema. Dima believes that cinema is inferior to literature as a means of expression because you spend much more time with a book than a film. It’s a really interesting point, something to dig into. I studied at the department of art theory & history and I never thought of it. Dima served in the military after school and worked at the factory all his life. He listens to rap, smokes pot, and tries to have fun. He is thirty-eight, his child was born last year. He likes Wong Kar-wai and is a fan of Asian cinema in general. Dima communicates by quoting Omar Khayyam, Confucius, and other awesome guys.”

April 20th, 2022
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