Backgrounds Up Front

Compilation Film


HD video

05:56 min.


There is history because there is the past – and there is history because there is an absence of things in words, of the denominated in names.
(Jacques Rancière)

Backgrounds Up Front is a film put together from 16mm film footage I discovered stored in a steel cabinet in the Greek House of Munich (Griechisches Haus, München), a cultural space operated by and for Munich’s ex-migrants of Greek origin. The source material of the compilation film was produced in the late 1950s, as introductory information for those labour migrants – the Gastarbeiter – that came to West Germany to work in its booming industry.

The content of the reels – rudimentary language lessons, some news and some information about everyday life in Germany –  was kept at a most basic level, possibly in an attempt to bridge language issues. Backgrounds Up Front is an enquiry into these simplistic visual narratives. By appropriating and re-photographing single frames, by slowing down, repeating, cutting up and juxtaposing the original film sequences I hijack the indented narratives and redirect the focus on alternative readings. Sub-narratives and concealed ideological assumptions built into the original stories are thus allowed a short cameo, as haunting elements of the mainstream narrations on those already half-forgotten events of German post-war history.