At sea #2

The Forgotten Space - Allan Sekula & Noël Burch, 2010, super 16mm


We wanted to make an openly Marxist film, to really redeem, in the discourse of film, that critical way of looking at the world. The crash has put basic analyses of the crisis tendencies of capitalism back on the table in a way that they weren't previously, so it's strange that there are films that seem to have fallen into the crime genre in order to explain what has happened. I'm thinking of Inside Job, which takes the form of a kind of detective novel, presenting a rogue's gallery of criminal financiers. But at the same time it's a film that suggests, perhaps incorrectly, that there was a golden age of Keynesianism, as if a kind of Keynesian utopia has been destroyed by neoconservatives, none of which helps us understand the cycles of capitalism, or the intractability of the problem of crisis. So much as we might now want to see more Keynesian policies pursued, there's also a need to understand these things in a deeper way than the culture of the popular documentary film allows, even though it has opened itself up in a good way to current political problems. We felt the need to make a tougher film.

A problem with documentary is that there's this extraordinary need for embodiment, for telling the story. Our producers would ask us from time to time, in a nervous way: what are all the little stories that you want to tell? And while it's true that we have all these stories of individuals who work at different sites along the supply chain — or are excluded by it, caught in the interstices, jettisoned by society — my response was that what we're struggling with here is the big story. And no-one thinks they can tell the big story anymore. Everyone's given up. They're feeling hopeless, and of course I see that — I teach in an art school, so I know how difficult it can be for younger people to feel like they have the ability to tell this story. Perhaps it's similar, in a way, to the recent turn in economics away from macro- to microeconomics: tending your little garden while the whole earth is trembling...

--Allan Sekula, May 2011, via.

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