Failed Film (German: “Filmfehler”) is an ongoing artistic research project centered around the archive of the former film factory in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany. Starting in the early 20th century, film and photographic materials were produced in Wolfen under the label Agfa, later ORWO, until the factory stopped the production after the collapse of the GDR in the 1990s. During its operation, supervisors at the factories kept a collection of mistakes and failures that were made during the production cycle. Official documents suggest that this material was collected to prevent making the same mistakes in the future, while handwritten notes by technicians foreshadow a fascination with the poetic quality of these mistakes. Parts of these collections remain in the archive of the former film factory, hitherto unseen.
My research for this project is centered around fundamental questions about photographic archives and their function and use in contemporary art practise. A core interest of my work is the examination of Bitterfeld’s “failed films” in regards to their visual potential. Using actual film material from the archive, I create analogue C-prints as physical interpretations of these mistakes. This research project was started in 2021 as part of a cooperation between Festival OSTEN and Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design, made possible through the generous support by the Industrie- und Filmmuseum Wolfen, Bitterfeld-Wolfen.
Watch the Artist talk:
Pouring Tears & Pucker Grains – Stories from the Collection of Photographic Failures, Filmfabrik Wolfen
Symposium for Artistic Research in Analog Photography, Helsinki Darkroom Festival
March 4, 2022, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finland.