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Harun Farocki: respite

February 11, 2011 8:00 pm

On the occasion of the solo exhibition by Harun Farocki, Beirut art center will present his film respite (2007), in the presence of the artist and filmmaker. It will be a rare opportunity to see this unique film and engage in a discussion with Farocki.

Respite consists of silent black-and-white film footage shot at Westerbork, a Dutch refugee camp established in 1939 for Jews fleeing Germany. In 1942, after the occupation of Holland, its function was reversed by the Nazis and it became a ‘transit camp’. In 1944, the camp commander commissioned a propaganda film by the photographer Rudolph Breslauer, a prisoner himself who was later deported and murdered in Auschwitz. Harun Farocki uses this very footage, which he analyses and rereads. The shots were intended to be propaganda for the camp, at a time when the deportation of Jews from Holland was coming to an end and the existence of the camp was drawing to a close. He focuses on the usefulness of the working prisoners and on the conditions in the camp, which were far better than in any other of the some 300 camps the Germans established. A crucial part of Farocki’s silent film is the intertitles, which complicate the narrative and resurrect the brutal reality beyond the original footage’s fogbank of prosaicness.

Respite by Harun Farocki

40′, 2007, silent with English intertitles

In collaboration with Antje Ehmann, Christiane Hitzemann, Lars Pienkoß, Matthias Rajmann, Jan Ealske, Meggie Schneider