UnionDocs is excited to present filmmaker Lisa Truttmann’s NYC premiere of her first feature-length essay Tarpaulins, a compelling work that follows sculpture like tents for termite fumigation in Los Angeles to reflect upon concepts of home, uncanny, creation and destruction.
The point of departure for Tarpaulins was a colorful disturbance on the cityscape of Los Angeles: a home in the distance festooned with a giant striped tarp. These are termite fumigation tents and filmmaker Lisa Truttmann follows their story on a two-year-long investigation as she hunts down the tents, the homes, the termites inside and their traces. As the film goes on, the termites soon become our allies, guiding us through Los Angeles’ neighborhoods on their own terms. Questions of life and death, profit and loss, home and un-home, macrocosm and microcosm are brought to the fore in pursuit of the city’s tiniest inhabitants and their exterminators. The tents become temporary sculptures, beasts heaving in the wind, skeletons dressed and stripped by workers we see. Wooden structures, soon to be homes, become eroded landscapes after an attack. And there, underneath the colorful mantle and its function, Truttmann elicits revelations of the uncanny.
In a constant dialogue, we hear the voices of workers, exterminators, entomologists, chemists, city planners, fellow travelers and literary authors. Contemplation is thrown into a zig-zag while an alter ego questions its own ideas and their making. Little by little the visual, political, social and economic relations of humans and nature unfold, anchored in a personal itinerary that is the framework for everything else to follow. As an essay film, Tarpaulins is a subjective view of a place and a circuitous conversation, embracing “unkempt activity”, restless labor, meandering thoughts and obsessive wanderings.
This is the NYC premiere of the film. The Tarpaulins has screened at Viennale, Diagonale Graz, CPH: Dox Copenhagen, Urban Bloom, and Vienna.