Reality Check

by Andreas Koller

We’ve been watching Renzo Martens‘ film „Enjoy Poverty“ from 2008, as well as „Manufactured Landscapes“, a 2006 documentary about the photographer Ed Burtynsky. Although fundamentally different in language, aesthetics and topic, both films left me devasteted, as they adress pressing problems of our world. Ultimately they raise the question for me, where I can start to make a change?

Enjoy Poverty

Renzo Martens‚ travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and encourages the poor to make use of their primary capital resource – poverty – instead of trying to change the situation and opression of white men. To visualise this, he puts up a neon sign that reads „Enjoy Poverty“ in the poor villages. He tries to convince photographers to document poverty, but it turns out that it is not possible for native people to sell the pictures at the same price as international photographers, who exploit the desperate situation in the Congo. Marten’s approach is highly controversial, but adresses important issues that not only exist in the area he covered.

Manufactured Landscapes

Ed Burtynsky is a canadian photographer who documents the industrial desolation of landscapes in his large-format pictures. As he states in the movie, his aim is to completely refrain from commenting on the situations and present an objective view. This might be true, but still, by choosing a subject (Motiv) and the way he portraits large-scale industrial transformations of huge areas, he delivers a clear message on what’s happening to our planet. Before I saw this film, I thought I knew to which dimension human destruction of nature can go, but this tought me better.

Thanks to Sustain RCA for showing this film on October 10, 2012.

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