Violence is to charge 600 Euros - Public Land II

Head­lines about the con­se­quences of the eco­nom­ic and social crises and the cur­rent lack of sol­i­dar­i­ty seem to have lost their sell­ing. They grab little atten­tion in the public dis­course. The second part of Elena Friedrich’s Public Land series looks at the power dynam­ics of the public realm, which are locat­ed between infor­ma­tion and manip­u­la­tion, con­trol and rep­re­sen­ta­tion. The self-reflec­tive doc­u­men­tary blends audio-record­ings of dis­cus­sions from Athens and Madrid with a fic­tion­al nar­ra­tive of a man trans­port­ing boxes of oranges to the sea­side, always with the ques­tion in mind of how, in the “soci­ety of the spec­ta­cle,” alter­na­tive nar­ra­tives can be cre­at­ed and kept alive.

Violence is to charge 600 Euros - Public Land I

Wake up! is the recur­rent tag on walls in Athens, Istan­bul and Madrid. As a sign, it traces the polit­i­cal strug­gles between 2011 and 2015. The film is an essay­is­tic col­lage that maps respons­es to the polit­i­cal events that led, among other things, to rent rising to 600 Euros in urban spaces. Protest tags in cap­i­tal let­ters on major mon­u­ments are com­pared and con­trast­ed in regard to form and con­tent. The mon­tage of images of the urban space filled with let­ters and signs sprayed on build­ings blends with the narrator’s voice to create a reflec­tion on and an appeal for public land. Which kind of public sphere, what kind of images, lan­guage, and nar­ra­tions do we use and inhab­it to change the world around us?

The City of the Dead

In the vast El Arafa ceme­tery in Cairo, a city has arisen among the tombs and mau­soleums. This “city of the dead” has a living pop­u­la­tion of one mil­lion. There are many funer­als each day, while life goes on all around: a young shep­herd drives his cattle through the small streets, a market woman tries to sell plas­tic laun­dry bas­kets, and chil­dren play among the tomb­stones, flying their kites. No respect for the dead, then. There is, how­ev­er, an all per­va­sive sense of real­ism: in this necrop­o­lis, the living and the dead are bound togeth­er into a pact of peace. Direct­ed by Sérgio Tré­faut, THE CITY OF THE DEAD presents us with var­i­ous aspects of this strange enclave. We see the serene and beau­ti­ful sand coloured graves as well as the tur­moil of a place where a pre­dom­i­nant­ly poor pop­u­la­tion strug­gles to sur­vive.

(Self)Exhibitions

Am I pretty?” When asked online, this banal ques­tion opens up a loop of found- footage videos uploaded by teenagers all over the world on the inter­net. Though the iden­ti­cal dra­matur­gy of dozens of these videos put togeth­er seems amus­ing at first sight, it inten­si­fies the impres­sion of a deeply alien­at­ed mode of self-expo­si­tion defined by the spe­cif­ic aes­thet­ics of tuto­ri­als, online diaries and con­fes­sion­al videos. While repet­i­tive in genre codes, this mash-up is no longer the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of indi­vid­ual sto­ries, but gives a con­densed pic­ture of cur­rent prac­tices of self-expo­si­tion, juve­nile inse­cu­ri­ty and the need for per­ma­nent recog­ni­tion in the Web 2.0.

Wilaya

Fatime­tu is born to a Sahrawi family in a Saha­ran refugee camp in Alge­ria and later sent to live with foster par­ents in Spain. After the death of her mother she returns to the camp. She has been absent for six­teen years. Her broth­er now expects her to stay and look after her sister Hayat, who has dif­fi­cul-ty walk­ing. Fatime­tu, who unlike the other women can drive a car, finds work trans­port­ing ani­mals, meat and bread from one admin­is­tra­tive dis­trict to anoth­er. In time, the Sahrawi people become ac-cus­tomed to the woman who tears about the desert with­out a hijab in her beaten up jeep. But Fatime­tu is torn between life in the desert and her mem­o­ries of her family and friends in Spain. The Sahrawi are a Moor­ish ethnic group in Alge­ria that is still wait­ing for the ref­er­en­dum that will define their status un-der inter­na­tion­al law. Told in con­cen­trat­ed, poetic images, Pedro Pérez Rosado’s staged film does not only give us the story of two reunit­ed sis­ters or the clash of two dif­fer­ent cul­tures; he also allows his Saha­ran pro­tag­o­nists to describe in their own words their polit­i­cal and social predica­ment.