Sack Barrow

Ben Rivers | U.K. | 2011 | 21m
color | sound | 16mm

Sack Barrow explores a small family run factory in the outskirts of London. It was set up in 1931 to provide work for limbless and disabled ex-servicemen until the factory finally went into liquidation this year. The film observes the environment and daily routines of the final month of the six workers. Years of miniature chemical and mineral processes transform the space into another world. Towards the end an extract of The Green Child by Herbert Read describes the descent into a watery cave world.—Ben Rivers

In June 2010 Ben Rivers filmed the environment and daily routines of the final month of the six workers, and is currently filming the empty factory now that it has finally closed down.
Despite this apparent shift in subject, Sack Barrow extends Rivers’ engagement with the marginal and overlooked. The factory is not a state-of-the-art capital producing business, but a site of anachronistically uncompetitive endeavour. The years of production are evident and the regimented clocking in and out of workers attests to the outmoded practices here, unlike the liberal job-sharing egalitarianism that government policy and public expectation impose elsewhere. The run-down architecture, the drips and crusty build-ups of toxic chemicals, the dangling wires, wizened faces and the general pragmatic clutter of the place come close to the patina of the unkempt shacks of earlier films. Sack Barrow is a hymn in a new register to the steadily disappearing textures of the past.—Sally O’Reilly

Screens as part of Ben Rivers.

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