The exhibition La Chorégraphie des marchandises (The Choreography of Goods) is the result of the work of artists in residence at Iméra in 2022, Romana Schmalisch and Robert Schlicht. It will take place at FRAC from October 7th to November 5th, 2023, with an opening scheduled at FRAC on October 6th.

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Today, 80% of international goods are transported in containers. iPhones from China, sneakers from Tunisia, t-shirts from Bangladesh, plastic ducks from Malaysia… come and go between continents, some multiple times, others only in parts. But even though it is the foundation of the globalized society, the container itself remains virtually invisible. However, the image of the container has become emblematic of globalization.

The exhibition “The Choreography of Goods” examines the tension between visibility and invisibility not only of the container but also, by extension, of society. Indeed, what does the image of an office, a factory, a warehouse, or a container reveal about the social relationships at play? In the case of the container, it is not just about its steel sheets that hide the goods it contains, but more importantly, the socio-economic relationships in which it is involved, or even enables. In fact, globalization would not be conceivable without the container, which has revolutionized work processes in ports and international trade flows, but beyond that, it has transformed the entire capitalist economy. Container terminals today seem to be controlled by an “invisible hand,” designed by artificial intelligence, guiding ships and planning the loading and unloading of containers, seemingly solving all problems by itself and positioning humans as mere spectators in the face of the always optimized flow of goods.

“The Choreography of Goods” presents a multi-channel video installation that connects operations on container ships, in ports and distribution centers, ship navigation, the organization and modeling of ship and container flows, the history of trade, the reification of social relations, the simulation of operations, the fetishization of objects, and the mystification of society. The juxtaposed sequences reveal an image of the container that has become the pivot of the global economy.

The exhibition “The Choreography of Goods” is part of the film and scientific research project “À la pêche à l’épave” resulting from the artists’ residence of Robert Schlicht and Romana Schmalisch at Frac Sud in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Marseille in 2021.

In partnership with the Laboratoire d’Économie et de Sociologie du Travail (LEST), the ANR Project Le Grand Entrepôt, the Goethe-Institut Marseille, the Iméra Institut d’études avancées (IEA) at Aix-Marseille Université, Mucem, and Montévidéo. With the support of the Akademie der Künste and the Senate of Berlin – Department of Culture and Social Cohesion. This project was made possible thanks to the support of Seayard and the Port of Marseille Fos.