To Each Other
- Still from To Each Other
- To Each Other, Single Channel HD Video, 13mins 16sec
This artwork’s title references an American produced World War Two propaganda film that celebrated the country’s steel manufacturing industries and their mobilisation into a united nationalist front, producing everything from planes to bombs during this conflict. These words – to each other – also directly reference America’s own politically fraught processes of gaining sovereignty from British colonial rule as outlined in ‘The Declaration of Independence’. One of the espousing principles of this document is the belief that all humans, in spite of race and class, are created equal; this ideology remains absent in reality – the use of these sentiments in a WWII propaganda film provides a good example.
Taking To Each Other as its title, this artwork brings together WWII propaganda footage of steel production with present-day filming of Carrie Furnace, a former blast furnace in Pittsburgh. Both footages are edited together with a voice recording that describes the affects of the 1945 WWII incendiary-bombing of Tokyo, where 100,000 civilians were burnt to death due to the intensity of fire produced from the steel clad cluster munitions. An interweaving of historical connections and remnant narratives to these divergent spaces starts to emerge despite what is literally visible within these different filming modalities. For example, the archival footage of wartime steel mills provides a twofold sense of mobility through the material movement qualities of film itself, but also via matter (the material properties of steel) that is set into motion. This in turn raises ideological questions concerning what it means to activate something, to make something happen, which in this specific case was the Tokyo Air Raids, but also the surrounding less visible contexts of politics, labour, capital, and racism which ‘fuelled’ the war machine itself, be it Imperial America or Japan.
These ideas of motion – visible, invisible and ideological – are further positioned by a Japanese woman’s voice over, which provides a personalised account of firebombing, its embodied remnants and aftermath, as well as the lack of official memorialisation of this event. Specifically, her description of an American who bowed to her (40 years after WWII on a visit to the USA) offers a trans-cultural expression of respect, acknowledgement and recognition, which is also set in to motion through the body: bowing is a movement that is activated and internalised by the body itself. However, here the bow operates as a non-verbal/non-visual activation of respect, raising questions concerning the violence, past and present, that bodies endure: how might internalised and externalised experiences operate to sublimate the absence of memorial? Can the bow itself, this act that remains invisible but is connected as idea through the present-day filming of the remnants of the former steel mill, be thought of as memorial? In effect by bringing together the site of Carrie Furnace with WWII traumas, To Each Other not only grapples with how to visualise an ethical entangling of sites that although physically remote from each other are historically related, but also to imagine potential futures that challenge the continued presence of what remains an unresolved yet defining past.
- Year: 2016
- Dimension: Variable
- Medium: Single Channel HD Video