In Comparison

Spanning continents and cultures, (Harun Farocki's latest) film focuses on the brick-that very basic unit of foundation-and traces its contexts, from the collective efforts of a community building a clinic in Burkina Faso, through semi-industrialized mouldings in India, to industrial production lines in Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. Never schematic but nevertheless possessing a notable (and charming) structure, this handsome 16mm color film reveals the innate beauty of forms, rows, clay, fabric, and skin that gleams in the sunlight. It also examines the repetitive movements and shapes that operate under the harsh glare of the fluorescents in sterile European factories, which reveal their own compelling aesthetics-particularly of the machine, with its hypnotic rhythms and musique concrète clatter. Amid this polyphonic array, the image of the hand dominates, positing a wide-ranging idea of labor that is as rich with meaning as a building block.

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