Decline and Fall

Erika Suderburg

2007, 80:00 minutes, colour, English


Decline and Fall examines how the individual, the institutionalized collective (military, party affiliated or affinity group) and the body politic operate within Empire's boot print. And how these collections of bodies archive empire's leavings, protest its destructive capacities, manufacture alternatives and agitate for its dissolution.

Decline and Fall is an experimental feature-length documentary about aerial bombing, reconstruction, mass protest, and monumentality. Spanning historical and present day images from Rome, Yucatán, Berlin and Los Angeles this work examines empire; its artifacts, structures and collapse. Through archival footage of the bombing, aerial reconnaissance and rebuilding of WWII Berlin, contemporary footage of a 2.8 million person peace march in Rome at the start of the Iraq war, a neighborhood candlelight vigil in Los Angeles, and stock footage of astronomical events in and around Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, Mexico this work decomposes the macro and micro movements of destruction, memorialization and everyday life.

Decline and Fall is structured as a historical epic and operates in the frisson between bodies moving through artifact and reinventing the space of urban memory as a lived place. As Empire declines its decay cannot be sterilized. Decline and Fall is a visual contemplation of these conscious leavings and the bodies that move through and recognize their complicity with the Empire machine. The project operates in the interstitials, refusing a comforting explanatory voice-over, a singular location, and a conclusion. It represents bodies and objects in motion in reaction to the decay of Empire, the messy, exuberant, horrifying, stultifying recall engendered by images of war, protest and the quotidian that nestle amongst these contradictions.

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