Contemporary Art

Live Auction, 17 February 2018

Contemporary Art
  • Joachim Schönfeldt; The Guilds & Unions Film
  • Joachim Schönfeldt; The Guilds & Unions Film
  • Joachim Schönfeldt; The Guilds & Unions Film
  • Joachim Schönfeldt; The Guilds & Unions Film
  • Joachim Schönfeldt; The Guilds & Unions Film

Lot Estimate
ZAR 300 000 - 500 000

About this Item

South African 1958-
The Guilds & Unions Film

edition 2/3

video, colour and sound, 8 minutes


The footage for this film was shot over seven years at various factory locations in and around Johannesburg. The subject matter of the footage is craft and machines, dealing with the baker, book-maker, builder, butcher, candle-stick maker, carpenter, composer, cook, farrier, forger, mason, potter, spinner, weaver, and so on.

The footage is edited into a fast paced short film of 8 minutes, with each clip showing close-ups of the hands of the craftsmen or of the machines in operation. Each of the hand movements of the craftsmen – clutching, grabbing, squeezing, moulding, hacking, twisting, pinching, punching, rolling, holding, slapping, hammering, pouring, slicing, throwing, cutting, rubbing and so on – have been separated from each other into singular ‘’acts’’ in the initial stages of the editing. Similarly, the machine movements have been separated from each other into ‘’acts’’ based on whether they are linear movements (diagonal to the left or right, left to right, or vice versa, up and down) or whether they are circular movements (clock-wise or anti-clock-wise). There are also other considerations such as colour and association.

The sound emanating from the footage is used as soundtrack and acts as the ‘’narrator’’. The final edit combines ‘’movement acts’’ of hand and machine, together with the sound, into a kind of symphony or a poem of the craftsmen.

- Joachim Schönfeldt, 2015


56th Venice Art Biennale, Main Exhibition, All the World's Futures curated by Okwui Enwezor, 2015.


Osei Bonsu (2015) All the World's Futures: 56 Venice Biennale. Pages 241 to 242.

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