“Please look at the blue light. Unfortunately, you could not be identified.” This line, spoken by a computer, begins the 80-minute film by Christa Pfafferott about the power between caregivers and patients in a clinic for forensic psychiatry. Like her book on the panoptic gaze, Der panoptische Blick (2015), the film examines reciprocal power relations within institutions. Using examples from film and Foucault’s arguments about the panopticon, the talk identifies how power structures are constituted by panoptic space. The presentation also considers the camera and the potential of its preservation on film. As the documentary team becomes the object of the clinic’s surveillance cameras, the question arises: who is watching whom and how does the associated power form? The work uncovers how control and surveillance within a concentrated microcosm exemplify developments in the public sphere, where the significance of these mechanisms grows by the day.
Christa Pfafferott is a Hamburg-based writer and director. After training at the Henri Nannen School of Journalism, she earned a degree in documentary filmmaking at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg. She then completed a Ph.D. in film studies at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg on a government scholarship from the Cusanuswerk. Her film Andere Welt (SWR) was awarded the Marlies Hesse Prize of the Journalistinnenbund. Her dissertation appeared in 2015. She has written for Die Zeit and Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. Her documentaries have received multiple funding grants and prizes at film festivals. She is a member of the Bundesverband Regie (a Germany-wide association of directors) and the Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaften (a society of media sciences).