West of the Tracks (Tie Xi Qu)

Wang Bing’s immersive nine hour documentary epic explores the changing world of China between 1999 to 2001. Set in the North-East of the country in Shenyang, his observational style records the physical and social textures of the regions heavy industry in its final stages before closure through bankruptcy.

Divided into three sections (Rust, Remnants and Rails) the documentary uses a ‘direct cinema’ approach to faithfully witness the people caught up in the massive changes to their work and homes as a consequence of reform era changes to the former planned market economy. See Jie Li’s excellent article for a further analysis of the film’s context and cinematic style West of the Tracks – Salvaging the Rubble of Utopia.


West of the Tracks (2002)

“Finally Got The News” – Radical Documentary

How do workers coordinate a struggle when the bosses and Union are the enemy?

Inspirational radical documentary made in the late 1960’s in association with the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. The film charts the racism and exploitation of black auto workers in Detroit and their attempt to collectivize and gain a voice in their workplace despite the violence and corruption used to suppress them. The League didn’t just see the need for black workers to organise but emphasized the potential power of all the working class.


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The Poetry of the Street – The Film and Flanerie of Jem Cohen

When I was in my twenties two of my great loves were documentary photography and experimental film. Seeing Jem Cohen’s work Lost Book Found (1996) made me realise how the two could come together in a heady mix. Cohen wanders like a street photographer gathering Super-8 and 16mm film material through his direct observation of the urban world around him. Lost Book Found is his modern day homage to Benjamin’s Arcades Project relocated to New York. It attempts to find another layer of meaning to the city through its traces, fragments and neglected spaces. The narrative alternates between the city’s hard streets and a hidden reality beneath the kaleidoscopic distractions and phantasmagoria of its capitalist space.


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Producing Waste…

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Photographer Chris Jordan has created a powerful series of images on a remote atoll, which evidence how our everyday waste (lighters, bottle tops etc) is lethally consumed by baby albatrosses. http://www.chrisjordan.com/

Below are more resources which are helping us better observe and understand waste as a material and a productive force in our work

Since 2008 photographer and film maker Wang Jiuliang has been investigating the ring of garbage dumps that surround Beijing. (In 2013 IUD was privileged to exhibit our work alongside his in Guangdong Art Museum). This is a trailor for his film:

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unbuiltWe have been thinking a lot about unbuilding as we observe the creative destruction of tower blocks in Salford (see the above photo by IUD on the ground). These demolitions are part of the first phase of a PFI driven gentrification project. In this process many social housing tenants are evicted and their homes replaced with houses and flats for sale on the open market. The demolition industry along with property developers, builders, finance companies and so on benefit from regeneration, which is not really about the provision of better homes but the redistibution of assets, from the poor to the rich. Demolition also functions at a symbolic level, as it rids us of unwanted architectural forms, in this case high rise social housing. The significance of this is not in some failure of the modernist architectural project but the destruction of viable homes and the displacement of the poor. Regeneration in this instance calls for the replacement of unwanted bodies with the healthy bodies of the rich who have money to spend and don’t rely so heavily on council services. In her book Where the Other Half Lives, Sarah Glynn says ” ‘regeneration’ sounds as though it could be a good thing, but it is being used as a Trojan horse for state-sponsored ‘accumulation by dispossession’ on a massive scale”(page 72).


Detonation Deutschland Diptych by Piero Steinle


This is an ongoing selection of resources on unbuilding, rubble, demolition etc.

Julian Rosefeldt and Piero Steinle made a video installation from archival sequences of demolitions called Detonation Deutschland. See the diptych above and more on Piero’s Steinle’s website.


boulevard-henri-iv-place de la bastille

Boulevard Henri IV, Place de la Bastille, demolished section of Paris photographed by Charles Marville 1876.

Photographs made by Charles Marville of the demolition of large sections of Paris by Baron Haussmann. Marville’s work is digitized in the collection of the Musee Carnavalet (search in French only).

Artist Hilary Powell’s work is an exploration of and collaboration with demolition sites, materials and stories    http://demolitionsite.net

Rubble: unearthing the history of demolition, by Jeff Byles and published by Three Rivers Press is a well researched popular history of demolition.

This is an academic paper, which explores the performative properties of asbestos in the demolition process: Inextinguishable fibres: demolition and the vital materialisms of asbestos by Nicky Gregson, Helen Watkins & Melania Calestani, published in Environment & Planning Journal 2010, volume 42.

therubbleclub.com: a club for architects whose creations have been intentionally destroyed during their life time.

10 minute promotional video of back to back demolitions by Controlled Demolition Inc

more to follow….




Spaces of Capital 1 – Allan Sekula – The Forgotten Space (2010)

16“The Forgotten Space follows container cargo aboard ships, barges, trains and trucks, listening to workers, engineers, planners, politicians, and those marginalized by the global transport system. We visit displaced farmers and villagers in Holland and Belgium, underpaid truck drivers in Los Angeles, seafarers aboard mega-ships shuttling between Asia and Europe, and factory workers in China, whose low wages are the fragile key to the whole puzzle. And in Bilbao, we discover the most sophisticated expression of the belief that the maritime economy, and the sea itself, is somehow obsolete” from www.theforgottenspace.net website.

Sekula’s earlier photographic work has dealt with issues of labour and with economic issues especially around maritime histories. The film The Forgotten Space builds on work from his previous project Fish Story.

The Forgotten Space112 min., color, sound(film production still)For an overview of his work see Socialism and the Sea article in Radical Philosophy. See also the interview of Sekula (Ship of Fools) by Grant Watson.

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