The Films of Daniel Eisenberg

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WORK is pleased to present a special week of screenings featuring four key works by acclaimed American filmmaker Daniel Eisenberg.

Over the last three decades, Eisenberg has forged a unique body of films that have become internationally recognised for expanding the boundaries between traditions of the personal avant-garde film and historical documentary. This screening programme will focus on Eisenberg’s four thematically connected films addressing the on-going implications of the events of the Second World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Displaced Person (1981) plays with the conventions of historic documentary film to draw attention to our passive reception of knowledge. By overlaying re-photographed footage of occupied France and American newsreel imagery with narration from a lecture by Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Beethoven Opus 59 string quartet, the film “resides as a third-hand statement in a second-hand world”.

Cooperation of Parts (1987) is a complex poetic reflection on the distinctions between historical and private experience, as well as a compelling exploration of Eisenberg’s own search for self-definition in relation to the Holocaust and its legacy. Proverbs, philosophical quotations and musical fragments provide a fractured soundtrack to imagery collected by the filmmaker as he traveled through Europe in 1983, enacting a dialogue with history and place through the medium of the camera.

Persistence (1997), a “meditation on the time just after a great historical event,” discards linear understandings of time in favour of more fluid relationships between past, present and future. Taking as its subject the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, Persistence superimposes journal texts over films from the US Department of Defense interwoven with filmic quotations from Rossellini’s Germany: Year Zero, 1946, and the artist’s own footage of Berlin in 1991−1992. 

Something More Than Night (2003) reveals the nocturnal experiences of Chicago’s public spaces, including many ‘non-places’ such as airports, trains stations, malls, downtown offices and industrial zones. The film resists a chronological sense of time, quietly drawing attention to the sensory dislocation that occurs at night and the continually shifting nature of the urban landscape.

Daniel Eisenberg has exhibited internationally for the past 30 years, including solo screenings at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. He lives and works in Chicago and is Professor of Film/Video/New Media, and Visual and Critical Studies, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

To coincide with the screenings, WORK is also pleased to invite you to an in conversation with Daniel Eisenberg on Saturday 19 May, 3-4.30 pm. Following the event, the artist will be signing copies of Postwar: The Films of Daniel Eisenberg, a major critical study of his work edited by Jeffrey Skoller and released by Black Dog Publishing. 

Daily Screening Programme

12.00    Displaced Person (10:15)

12.15    Cooperation of Parts (40:00)

13.00    Persistence (1:23:53)

14.30    Something More Than Night (1:13:00)

15.45    Displaced Person (10:15)

16.00    Something More Than Night (1:13:00)