Issue #59 Harun’s Highway

Harun’s Highway

Jan Ralske

Issue #59
November 2014

If you photograph a bridge from below, where the clochards sit, it might appear like the arches of a church. More recently the bridges are covered on the sides, so that the drivers aren’t distracted by the view of the valley below. Only a dog still notices that there’s a drop of a few hundred meters below the highway, and he howls.
—Harun Farocki, As One Sees [Wie man sieht], 1986.

The impact of Harun Farocki’s work was more than the howl of a dog in tune with his instincts. And although Farocki was certainly a partisan behind enemy lines, using archival and contemporary footage from the military, he was not simply that lone romantic fighter, once derisively described by Carl Schmitt as “a dog on the highway.”

Harun Farocki’s call was not for “more dogs on the highway”: Farocki was more interested in why the highway was built in the first place, or in redesigning the highway. His analysis was usually so profound—or let us say “distracting”—that it truly affects the way one ultimately views the realties we are conditioned to accept.

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