Ceramiqueros de Traslasierra
Argentina, Spanish, 1965, 19 min
L’industria dell’argilla in Sicilia
Italy, silent, 1910, 5 min
Austria and Germany, no dialogue, 2009, 61 min
Clay is well deserving of the noun “creator”. Our species, for example, dug it up and turned it into a house and beautiful objects for the house. Alcira López, potter, took up the trade because she was poor and without even a surface on which to cook. No one taught her, she has taught her fifteen children. She kneads the clay, in the motions of a baker, and turns it, without a wheel, without moulds, adding sausages; we see her thinking with her hands, which is ‘the true condition of man’, said a man. She moulds turtles and she has never seen one; she sells her demiurge art to tourists. The rivers of the Traslasierra valley afford her with the clay (to turn) and the stones (to polish), the cow and horse dung with heat and colour. The filmmaker affords her with a posterity that she did not solicit and for which we are grateful. In the valley, there are people who work with moulds now.
If we are to support a “technological advance”, may it be the potter’s wheel. It allows you to think with your hands and also your feet, and some pleasure can be derived from the slippery contact of the clay. In Cefalù, in 1910, the potter’s wheel is in the middle of a production chain that, shot by shot, grows calmer: from the roughness of extraction (it seems like they are in a mine) to the fineness of the decoration (in the sun, by the sea and smoking in a pipe; it seems like they are on holidays, that the day belongs to them). Marelli, for his part, frames his shots with pioneering astonishment and audacity.
And after the beautiful objects, the house itself with In Comparison, a centrifugal force, an invitation to practice dialects in amazement. Farocki traces the production of the brick through towns and cities in Burkina Faso, India, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland. Outside Europe, the path is long and it is known where the clay comes from (the ground below) and where it goes. In Europe, it is reduced to brick manufacturing, always indoors. Once again, a mingaco, minka, andecha or facendera (Quechuan and Asturian words for the same tradition of communal work), hands instead of electricity, shared happiness, the very discreet charm of the machines, noise instead of songs, trucks, trucks and devoured territory, the women who plaster, the women who transport, the ones who carry the children on their backs, a dome of bricks inside which more bricks are being fired, plastic sacks and prefabricated walls, a Homer Simpson at the control panel, worlds undivided, worlds divided: that all this coexists, that such different modes of production, even opposites, are contemporaneous, undoes the spell of progress and shows that nothing is inexorable, that it is possible to stop deliberately, to want a certain life and not another one.
L’industria dell’argilla in Sicilia: Copy provided by Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino