Hito Steyerl: In Free Fall
Sophisticated film captures the global economic crisis
This article is from 2010.
A theoretician, artist and filmmaker interested in documentary strategies in contemporary art, Hito Steyerl’s work focuses on the intersection between politics and aesthetics, specifically the status of images as they circulate globally. Steyerl is a hugely significant artist and a serious player in current thinking, and while her film ‘In Free Fall’ inspires hours, weeks, days of consideration, it escapes pretension and is instantly accessible.
Comprising three sections, the dominant narrative details a history, or histories, of one object, a Boeing 707-700 4X-JYI. High definition video pours over sun-drenched disused planes, wrecks and alienated parts at an airplane junkyard in the Californian desert, while a small DVD player sits vicariously on the sand amongst the scrap. This ghostly, post apocalyptic setting is a draw in itself: it is the screen within a screen, this prop-like inclusion, which casts the first aspersions to veracity and points the viewer in differing directions.
Multifarious characters – a pilot, actor, historian, airport owner and in the self-reflexive style of structuralist filmmaking, a cameraman and the artist herself – detail accounts of the object’s life. First acquired by film director Howard Hughes for TWA, it was then flown by the Israeli Air force before being blown up for blockbuster film Speed. With each clip and interview rewriting what has gone before, the film folds in on itself, but in a developing, not diminishing, manner. Steyerl seamlessly sews tropes of economy, spectacle and crash into this complex narrative that works to reveal the cycles of capitalism as it engulfs and morphs the ever-changing status of commodity.
Collective, 220 1260, until 19 Sep (not Mon), free.