Documentary by Harun Farocki, color, ca. 40', France/Germany, 1997
Script, direction, editing: Harun Farocki
Who is making still lifes today? In advertising they are produced daily, pictures of merchandise, food, cars, tractors, promising something other than they are. And yet they are. What we see in advertisements are "actual objects whose real existence is worth nothing .... The objects are stage props, arranged to evoke certain imports and at the same time intended to appear objectively, to represent their 'being for itself' (Exposé). In advertising an image of something is created, a little world arranged.
STILLEBEN is about a detail of the world. We see what is going on behind the scenes, the emergence of an image, a modern fetish. The picture maker Harun Farocki watches picture makers on the job. "What is suggestive about this work results among other things from the fact that so much effort is put into producing such a small facet of the world. A croissant bitten into and a half-empty coffee cup with lipstick traces on the rim are made to answer for so much-in order of importance, not simultaneously-the confidence of morning, the small pleasure in the morning promising a greater one in the course of the day, the solitude promising an amour, the future of a bond . . . . In the process expressions are picked up and coined, as in every use of language. What a burden lies on the objects of the still life! As on the material tested in the laboratory: an encounter of physics and alchemy. Harun Farocki observes commercial photographers arranging pictures. Their words are comments on their work, comments on the world. The precision of their work is fascinating. Precise observation is essential to the work of making films. Pictures are being defined. Fetishes are being produced. The subject of the film is the production of the icons of our time: objects.
Harun Farocki has traced the visible and the invisible in all of his films. Visualisation, speech, sight, thought, perception are his themes. STILLEBEN is also about the potentially explosive mixture of true and false, reality and sorcery, world with luster and world without luster.