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FilmInt on the Underground: Art and Sacrifice in Artworkers

Artworkers

FilmInt on the Underground is a blog dedicated to emerging filmmakers.

By April L. Smith.

Andrzej Jachimczyck’s documentary Artworkers is less than twenty minutes long, yet in that short span of time, the film manages to cover so much history through subtle layering and narration. Artworkers is an exploration of the labor and artistry that is involved in the creation of art installations at the Ex Teresa Arte Actual in Mexico City. The workers are tasked with setting up and taking down various exhibits day after day, month after month and year after year. Many of these men have been employed at the museum for years, and their input and knowledge of the space helps the artists achieve the ideal exhibition. However, their hard work is often unrecognized and undervalued and must be destroyed once the exhibition is complete. Jachimcyzk’s use of the fantastic natural light that shines through the doors and windows of the museum (which was once a cathedral known as the Santa Teresa Arte Antigua), and the worker’s stories of their experiences at the museum reveal the artworkers, as they are known, to be artists themselves.

This is a documentary both about a history of a space, the use of that space, and the ways in which the past echoes down into the present. The viewer must take note of the opening narration of this film, which briefly discusses the history of the original Aztec peoples and their experience with the Spanish Conquistadors. The artworkers complete the narrative when they speak of the buried civilization beneath the church, their experience as laborers and the value of their work, and their thoughts about art, creation and religious belief. Jachimczyck underscores their statements through beautiful visuals of the display they are working on in its various stages of creation and destruction. Artworkers is also very much concerned with the temporal nature of art itself, that the work involved in the creative process and the oftentimes harder work involved in displaying that is often seasonal, at best, and quickly forgotten in favor of the next thing.

April L. Smith is a blogger and Editorial Assistant for Film International. For more information on this blog, or to submit a film for consideration, contact aprillynnsmith77@gmail.com.

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