After the Crash


2009, 00:06:30, PAL, color, sound, S016 01

Hito Steyerl (b. 1966 in München, living in Berlin) works as an artist but also as a theorist, her work being strongly influenced by the post-colonial, feminist critique of representation and in this way she substantially participates in the discourse about the so-called “Documentary Turn”. This discourse, since the 1990s, acknowledges an increased occurrence of the documentary form in the visual arts field and assumes that in the context of global medialization the relationship of reality and documentary forms significantly changes. In her work, Steyerl intertwines aspects of the documentary with elements of fiction in order to critically question the media production of “truth”. After the Crash is part of the film trilogy In Free Fall (with the corresponding parts Before the Crash and Crash), which reflects aspects of recyclability and the life cycles of things. The focus of After the Crash is a small airport in the Californian desert, which is used as an aircraft wrecking yard. The images of plane wrecks turn into a symbol of the current economic crisis and the stock market crash, while the owner of the wrecking yard talks about the paradox of economic success in times of global crisis: while the economy apparently stagnates, the airfield fills up with unused aircraft that are recycled in various ways. Hollywood, China - they all need dearly buyable wrecked aircraft for the global entertainment industry, whether in the form of spectacular images of bursting aircraft or in the form of raw aluminum, which is obtained from the scrap parts and is used as a coating material for DVD production. The motif of recycling, also in regard to Steyerl’s artistic implementation, is present in After the Crash, when she uses found footage images and transfers them to new contextual relationships and in this way provokes the boundaries between documentary and fiction to blur.