Factory

in Fábrica, de Daniel Blaufuks, Ed. Guimarães 2012 Capital Europeia da Cultura e Pierre von Kleist Editions.

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.

T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets: Burn Norton

I

The reading of a photograph is an act of silence. Maybe we could say that the photographic image is not readable out loud, since it proposes a mental construction which is disorganized at its beginning and made of the juxtaposition of concepts, ideas and reminiscences. It is the idea without the condition of its wordization. Even if its intensity, rhythm and discourse may suggest something like the idea of a murmur, we establish a mute relationship between ourselves and that which each image, photographic series or exercise of photographic discourse tells us. Here we stand before the fundamental uneasiness of images as signifying surfaces [1]: there they are, restless, saying things, speaking to the world, making noise amidst the silence. The universe composed by these apprehensions enables a wide range of approaches and interpretations – historical, conceptual and delirious narratives, for example. The image causes the writing of texts, illustrates texts, becomes and ceases to be a parable of this or that. Therefore, the understanding of the photographic element is an act of freedom: the visual drift potentiates, in a more or less clear way, a conceptual drift. But it is also a potency of movements: the still image (the photography, the photogram) is the beginning of all gestures – the ones which precede the stoppage and the ones which follow it. Is it upon this quiescence that dwells all the enthrallment toward imagination? Unanswerable question: the advantage of photography as an incomplete sentence, as a sentence we may or may not bring ourselves to complete, is to be found here. Inconclusiveness is, after all, a possible way to close up a cycle as well.

II

FÁBRICA (Factory) is an essay made of images obtained through the lens’s mediation. It presents itself that way, both as a photography book and as a photographic film. Its structure is paced and slow. In the context of Daniel Blaufuks’s work, FÁBRICA is part of a dense, poetic and atlantic body of work, developed around the notions of memory and representation. Therefore, it is aligned, on a propositional perspective, both with Terezín (2007) and with A Voyage to St. Petersburg (1998): chapters of an ongoing process which attempts to render memory visible, palpable [2]. Blaufuks explores the image of the factory, the idea of the factory and the memory of the FÁBRICA. Following what was written above, there are two different ways of interpreting FÁBRICA: as an essay around an idea of factory, abstract and generic, and as a meditation about oblivion and dereliction. Through the conjunction of both we arrive to the previously mentioned representation of memory as a central motif on the work of Daniel Blaufuks.

On an idea of factory

Even though its name appears on some of the images, maybe it’s not that important to know which factory this is about. Or, in other words: the idea of a factory begins with the dissolution of its identity, of its location. We are focused on the main and essential thing: its physical and spatial grandiosity, a past of economic prosperity, abandonment as its present status. With this exercise of abstraction we can discard the hypothetical documental nature of these images, so we may be able to access the factory as scenic space, through an idea of factory which synthesizes a form of industrial production based on an organization, both productive and moral, necessarily hierarchical. From this point we find one of the possible results of this same idea: growth, decay and abandonment. The image of memory (the image-archive, the objectual image) is confronted, in a not necessarily chronological or narrative way, with written word and sound. Reading the Worker’s Obligations list (where admission to work means immediate submission) and the Director’s Obligations list (where the director is the keeper of order, moral and productivity) and listening to the mechanical, noisy and crude sound, which in the film overlaps these images, functions as a strong interference in its illusory representation of the past as a perfect, harmonious and almost happy era. This deconstruction transforms the Factory into a political enunciation, embodying in images Benjamin’s thesis: a photograph of the Krupp works or the AEG tells us next to nothing about this institutions [3]. The poetics of images take a position.

On dereliction and oblivion

In FÁBRICA, as in a ghost city, human presence disappeared in the image of present time. There are no people, not even shadows. Just the sound of footsteps, just as abandoned as the places in which they resound. Figurative representation is set as a mediate image, image of an image and, therefore, as an image of the past. Empty rolls of thread, drops of water falling inside the factory, the decontextualization of the objects, a desk covered with dust and without drawers, heaps of trash, the debris of what used to be a workshop: everything seems to point out to a triumph of disorder over a structure which was recognizable on the workers regulation and on the archival images. We are forced to ask: what happened here? An epidemic ravage that set it all on fire? A sustained sequence of decisions that weakened the processes to the point of its disintegration? Once again, the image of people’s absence, both of workers and bosses: did they intend to forget? These are the moments which memory didn’t want to remember and did not file. Here, we summon Chris Marker’s statement: we do not remember, we rewrite memory much as history is rewritten [4]. It’s in between these moments that FÁBRICA proposes itself to be read as a meditation about dereliction and oblivion, far beyond the exercise of comparison between past and present, far beyond the field of ruins: we are already inside the territory of delusion.

[1]   Flusser, Vilém. ’Towards a Philosophy of Photogaphy’ , Ed. Reaktion Books, 2007, p. 8.

[2]  Oliveira, Filipa, Works on Memory, Ed. Ffotogallery, Wales, 2012, p. 16.

[3]    Benjamin, Walter. “ Little History of Photography.” in Walter Benjamin. Selected Writ- ings, Volume 2 (1927-1934). Ed. Michael W. Jennings. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 1999. 526.

[4]  Marker, Chris. ‘Sans Soleil’, France, 1983.

translated by Manuel João Neto

Author(s)
Year 2013
Type Book Chapter, Text in Catalogue
Publication Fábrica, de Daniel Blaufuks
Publisher Guimarães 2012 Capital Europeia da Cultura + Pierre von Kleist
Local Guimarães
Ed/Org Daniel Blaufuks
ISBN / ISSN 978-989-98292-2-0
Language português, english