SynopsisIn one long continuous travelling shot, The Song of the Shirt tells a complex story of industrialisation, revisiting motives of the Luddites movement, and reflecting upon the role of cotton within colonialism.
The Song of the Shirt departs from the play Die Maschinenstürmer (1922) by Ernst Toller, but relocates the Luddites scene of England in the early 19th century along with the remnants and ruins of the cotton industry, in post-2011 Egypt and post-industrial Poland. Concerned with the actualisation of a criticism of technology the film is re-reading the Luddites movement for a contemporary body of the worker that is always already informed by the histories of technological progress. Filmed in one continuous shot, the movements of a seamstress, a projectionist, the screen maker, and the film crew as the choir seek to find ways to intervene in the cyclic structure, possible disruptions, torn between the historical continuity and an urge to deviate the progressive form. Slow down, stop, don’t proceed. They revolve around projections on off-white cotton screens that document certain production methods in the fields of cotton agriculture, weaving, processing, sewing, and storytelling, which can be understood as narrative structures that can tell us about complex social changes in everyday life experiences. And as a counter-narrative, the voices — an exchange of letters — seek for subverted forms of sabotage, for practices of weaving the stories and telling the textiles that may be (speaking with Haraway) “making practices, pedagogical practices and cosmological performances”.