The Forgotten Space
This new essay film by Allan Sekula and Noël Burch looks at everyday people whose role in the global economy goes largely undocumented: displaced farmers and villagers in Holland and Belgium, underpaid truck drivers in Los Angeles, tent city occupants in Ontario, California, seafarers aboard mega-ships shuffling between Asia and Europe, factory workers and Filipino maids in China. Drawing from interviews, archival materials and footage from films such as Josef von Sternberg’s The Salvation Hunters, The Forgotten Space offers a lucid and lyrical portrait of worker’s conditions, the inhuman scale of sea trade, the imbalance of international trade and the secret lives of port cities. Sekula and Burch closely track the seemingly minor details obscured by the pervasive illusion of an interconnected, “flat” world economy. The film intermingles Sekula’s incisive commentary with astounding vistas of industry—from cavernous factory floors to crowded cityscapes—and intimate first-person testimonies.
Over forty years, Sekula’s photography and writing has focused on the conditions of laborers and The Forgotten Space is based upon his book and exhibition project Fish Story. Burch, an author of such seminal works of cinematic scholarship as Theory of Film Practice and To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in the Japanese, is co-director with Thom Andersen of Red Hollywood and, with Sekula, of Reagan Tape, which will be screened as part of the exhibition Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Forgotten Space won a Special Orizonti Jury Prize at the 2010 Venice Film Festival. “I'm sure that I learned a lot more from The Forgotten Space than I did from any other feature that I saw last year, fiction or nonfiction... The film's most haunting and persistent image is the multicolored and anonymous rectangular steel containers loaded on the ships, evoking giant versions of children's building blocks while never betraying what their actual contents might be—an apt illustration of the concealments and shiny surfaces of the globalized economy itself.”—Jonathan Rosenbaum.
Bing Theater | Free, no reservations | This screening will be followed by a discussion with Allan Sekula, Bérénice Reynaud (Co-Curator, Film at REDCAT) and other guests to be announced.