What Does It Mean To Be A Marxist Band?

Music for the film marxism today (prologue) by Phil Collins was provided by Laetitia Sadier and Nick Powell. The band Stereolab, in which Laetitia Sadier wrote and sang the lyrics, was sometimes referred to by critics as a “Marxist band”. This was probably based on the lyrics, more than the music, more than the esthetics, more than the way the band was organized and the way they operated. The lyrics from the song Ping Pong are often quoted when referring to the political outlook of Stereolab:

Music video for Ping Pong by Stereolab

“It’s all right ‘cause the historical pattern has shown
How the economical cycle tends to revolve
In a round of decades three stages stand out in a loop
A slump and war then peel back to square one and back for more

Bigger slump and bigger wars and a smaller recovery
Huger slump and greater wars and a shallower recovery”

Laetitia Sadier herself denies being a Marxist, or being influenced by Marxism:

“I never read Marx, so I can’t claim to be a Marxist, but I know that there are principles in Marxism I agree with, strong points about discovering how the system works, and the hope that one day the capitalist system will be made obsolete, and another more human one will emerge. I find it interesting to observe the tendencies of economics. And I feel that it’s not beyond our means to change this system to suit what people need better.” – quoted from this interview

She prefers the work of Greek socialist philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis, founder of the group – and the magazine – Socialisme ou Barbarie.

More On Pedagogy! (Another Screening At Moderna, August 26:th)

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Phil Collins, marxism today (prologue), 2010, HD video, 35min. Courtesy Shady Lane Productions

On August 26:th we return to Moderna in Malmö for yet another screening of artvideos, accompanied by more talks about pedagogies. The videos to be shown are marxism today (prologue), and use! value! exchange!, both made by artist Phil Collins. The films deal with the experiences of teachers in Marxism-Leninism in the GDR, and looks at the relevance of these classes for our contemporary societies. The first film marxism today (prologue) consists of interviews with three former teachers, mixed with footage of stadium gymnastics and footage from a GDR TV programme made by and for teachers. The soundtrack was provided by Laetitia Sadier and Nick Powell. The second film, use! value! exchange!, features former Marxism-Leninism teacher Andrea Ferber lecturing present-day students in Marx’s Das Kapital, and the audience of the film also become sit-in students of the class for the twenty minutes that the film lasts. You can learn more about the films


or here

or at the website of the project

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Phil Collins, marxism today (prologue), 2010, HD video, 35min. Courtesy Shady Lane Productions


On Pedagogy (Screenings August 19:th And 26:th)

Security guards beating up a nine year old child at Malmö Central Trainstation were caught on camera. Reactions to the footage mirrors a running debate on Swedish pedagogy. On August 19:th, outside Moderna Museet in Malmö, we’ll be screening videos by Beatrice Gibson, Catarina Simão and Priscila Fernandes whilst talking about pedagogy.

film still from F for Fibonacci by Beatrice Gibson

F for Fibonacci by Beatrice Gibson is a hallucinatory film based on a chapter from the modernist novel JR (1975) by William Gaddis. JR tells the story of an 11 year-old capitalist who, with the unwitting help of his school’s resident composer, inadvertently creates the greatest virtual empire the world has seen, spun largely from the anonymity of the school’s pay phone. The film also draws on the work of British experimental educator and composer John Paynter, who was at the forefront of utopian post-war pedagogical movements orientated around child-centered education.
Beatrice Gibson worked closely with 11 year old Clay Barnard Chodzko (from The Selfish Giant) on a number of the film’s production elements, commissioning him to design an office in Minecraft and develop an existing character of his, Mr Money.

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film still from Effects of Wording by Catarina Simão

Effects of Wording by Catarina Simão tells the story of the Mozambique Institute, a 1960s schooling enterprise in Tanzania. The Mozambique Institute was developed by the Mozambique Liberation Front, which fought against Portuguese colonialists until Mozambique gained independence in 1975. The film combines newly shot footage of archive materials, like documents, photographs, and alphabetization tools for teaching Portuguese, with older footage from classes and army training grounds, shot by documentarians visiting the Institute. The film also includes testimonies by a former student, and a former teacher from the Institute.


film still from For a Better World by Priscila Fernandes

For a Better World by Priscila Fernandes was shot in KidZania, a miniature city where several corporate chains get together to stage, for children, the role of adult consumer and employee. The video follows a group of children role-playing as adults in a modern city. Children are asked to find jobs in a supermarket, work as doctors or spend leisure time in the disco. “My interest in this specific location is to reveal and question how (and what) didactic methods are being employed to prepare children for the economies of the 21st century: who are the entities responsible for the design of play, and what are the motivations behind these decisions.”

For more on KidZania, here’s an article written by Kalle Brolin (of the SSC) for a Swedish newspaper – link

One week later, we’ll be back with another screening outside Moderna. Also on pedagogy. On August 26:th, we’ll be showing the films Marxism Today (Prologue) and Use! Value! Exchange! by Phil Collins. The films deal with the experience of Marxist-Leninist teachers after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

Come over! Come over!

The Train Stopped At Höja


Propaganda poster for the train that filmmaker Aleksandr Medvedkin operated from

We were told, and it was many years ago so the details and facts are blurry, about how these trains would transport paintings borrowed from Russian art museums around the countryside and make stops at various villages. Once every month, a new painting would arrive in your village. It would be carried from the train station to the town hall or the house of culture. The people of the village would form a queue outside and wait to be let in. You would enter an auditorium, where the painting stood, covered up, on a small stage or podium at the front. Once everybody was sitting down, the painting would be uncovered for twenty minutes, and people would sit, just looking at this one painting, for the full twenty minutes.

(The poster pictured above has nothing to do with this story – it announces the arrival of another train, carrying filmmaking- and editing equipment, which will turn your small village into the temporary site for the production of a newsreel. Maybe a distant relative to the Super 8 workshops in Mozambique that we looked into in a previous post.)

We carried this story around in the backs of our heads, until we were approached by Moderna Museet in Malmö, the museum of modern art. They asked if we wanted to collaborate on a screening, and we asked if we could borrow works from their collection, to show in our small village.

The village of Höja has 60 mailboxes, and around 200 inhabitants.

From the 400 works in the collection of Moderna that were classified as moving images, we chose four. They were screened in Höja on August 6. To mark the occasion, we had booked a band, Lila gatuorkestern, with connections to the village, to play a gig before the screening. Nils Svensk from Moderna Museet was present, to hold an introduction and answer questions from the audience.

The films that were shown:

Till minne av en stor man – ILAC (1972), by Björn Lövin
ILAC is a ficticious insurance company. Its underlying principle, Lövin writes, is that of inverted risk. “According to this principle a whole life can be insured, on condition that the life values are formulated in terms of consumer levels and social relationships.” If you enter into a contract with ILAC, you are promised security and a perfect life, on condition that you honour the obligations of the contract.

His-story (1998), by Deimantas Narkevičius
The film tells the story of the precarious life of the father of Deimantas Narkevičius in Lithuania during the Soviet years. The film was made with the same cameras and rolls of films that was used in the Soviet Union during the 1970’s. “I wanted to make a film about the time when I was growing up, with the kinds of images that were made then, in order to tell a story that would have been impossible to tell back then.”

Turn on (2004), by Adrian Paci
Unemployed men sit waiting next to a city square in the Albanian town Shkodër. Each morning they go there in the hopes of being offered employment. In the film, Adrian Paci has paid them to hold up lightbilbs connected to rumbling generators. “The flickering light of the bulbs can be read as a contradictory metaphor for the men’s vulnerable condition but also for their inner strength and spirit. In the twilight, the bulbs appear shining like stars against a dark sky.”

Women at Work I – Under Construction (1999) by Maja Bajevic
Refugee women worked at embroidering patterns on the protective tarp covering the facade of the National Museum of Bosnia-Hercegovina, which was under renovation for damages incurred during the war. At night, the women worked by lamplight, creating small intimate rooms with see-through walls. Their embroidery works were otherwise excluded from the collections of the National Museum.


The tour bus of our cinema