[Screening]: Films by Cathy Lee Crane, July 27, 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.

Films by Cathy Lee Crane
July 27, 2022
8 p.m.

Crossing Columbus
Dir.: Cathy Lee Crane, USA, 2020, Digital file, 78 min

On the Line
Dir.: Cathy Lee Crane, USA, 2010, Digital transfer of 16 mm, 4 min

Guests: Cathy Lee Crane in conversation with Rebekah Rutkoff (writer)

At the height of the Mexican Revolution, Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico. Every year, the town’s commemoration of the raid opens old wounds. This year (2018), Mexican riders on horseback (Cabalgata Binacional Villista) drive north through the Chihuahua desert with the grandson of Villa himself to donate Villa’s death mask. Richard Dean, the town’s self-proclaimed historian, finds the village enthusiasm for the Cabalgata “un-American.” The memorial he organizes for the Historical Society is also the anniversary of his grandfather’s murder by the Villistas. As the town grapples with the historical event that put Columbus on the map, it becomes clear that the very survival of this border town depends on it. The story of Columbus is as much about the past as it is the ritual of retelling and enacting it. After decades of repetition, this story has come to shape the town’s very identity.

In the context of current debates on immigration in North America, CROSSING COLUMBUS frames those controversies with the historical lens of the boundary itself; in particular, the history of crossing it.

The short documentary film ON THE LINE charts a trip around Baja California to the Tropic of Cancer line on the summer solstice. The film develops its narrative drive through the rhythm of shot length and composition. Aided by an original score from Beth Custer and a wicked sound design by Jeremiah Moore that utilizes sounds from the Cassini space probe, the piece takes on a humorously sinister tone; as if the historical marker were an alien landing.

Location: Arsenal Cinema 1

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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