<videovortex> Here We Are Now

Stoffel Debuysere stoffel.debuysere at gmail.com
Sun Aug 29 11:10:06 CEST 2010

Here We Are Now

13 October 2010, 21:00. Beursschouwburg, Brussels.
A Courtisane event, in the context of the S.H.O.W. (Shit Happens on  
Wednesdays) series.

To what extent can we still make a difference between “public” and  
“private”? According to philosopher Jean Baudrillard, “the one is  
no longer a spectacle, the other no longer a secret”. Now that the  
most intimate details of our lives are thoughtlessly shared on the  
internet and the media, in order to feed an endless, compulsive loop  
of information, participation and circulation, it seems like ever more  
constraints and obstacles are being annulled. Surrounded and obsessed  
by a world of images, overcome by a gnawing insecurity, we submit  
ourselves to a regime of ultimate visibility. We are well aware of  
being seen, followed and remembered, but that is precisely what pushes  
us to all kinds of forms of disclosure, confession and  
“selfploitation”. The mediatised gaze of the other, at the same  
time disturbing and stimulating in its elusiveness and omnipresence,  
has become the paramount point of reference for our obsessive search  
for identity and belonging. We show ourselves in order to become  
ourselves, while we irrevocably disappear behind our images. The  
uncanny transit zone where intimacy merges into transparency is the  
central theme of this programme. Four recent video works, each in  
their own way, explore the contemporary conjunction of media and  
subjectivity, in which it seems no longer possible to maintain an  
unequivocal relationship between watching and showing, subject and  
object, seeing and being seen.

With works by Mohamed Bourouissa, Olivia Rochette & Gerard-Jan Claes,  
Ruti Sela & Maayan Amir, Shelly Silver

Olivia Rochette & Gerard-Jan Claes, Because We Are Visual (BE, 2010,  
A brooding glance in to the world of online video diaries, circulating  
in the deep shadows of YouTube and related platforms. There we find a  
never-ending stream of micro-confessions and intimate exposures,  
teenage fear and moody blues, broken hearts and timid souls in search  
for comfort and belonging. It doesn’t matter if essentially there is  
nothing to say nor show, as long as it contributes to the driving flow  
of information. Anything can be said, everything must be disclosed, to  
the point that there is ultimately nothing left to see. It does not  
matter if nobody watches or listens, what matters are the traces we  
leave behind in our endless search for identity and significance. What  
matters is mattering itself. Looking for an answer to our loneliness  
and insecurity, overwhelmed by the omnipresence of images, we become  
images ourselves. Instead of looking for an object, rather than  
looking at ourselves as objects, we become objects ourselves. We  
immerse into the shadow play of the web, only to sink deeper into a  
trap of pointless circulation and forced visibility. Here we are:  
desperate bodies without desire, crude visuals without necessity or  
consequence. Welcome to the spectacle of banality.

Mohamed Bourouissa, Temps Mort (DZ/FR, 2009, 18′)
“There is something fragile in this project, which mirrors the  
fragility and fugacity of the process itself of making the images.  
Every image has been made with the help of a friend who is in prison.  
Situations are established and filmed with a mobile phone, hence the  
poor quality of the images. If I insist upon this fragility, it’s  
because it contains the whole idea of the work. This video puts  
forward the intimate and at the same time distant, relationship  
between two persons, one free and the other one in captivity; between  
a real human relation and a digital communication; between a prison  
system which puts a person in the situation of fundamental isolation,  
of retraction in a closed space; and a free circulation : a profusion  
of information turning him into a member of the “media community”.  
We enter an “off screen” kind of free space. And at the same time,  
it’s the encounter between two temporalities, one slowed down,  
stopped, frozen by the prison environment, and the other one fast,  
dazzling, in constant movement. That’s why I chose the title ‘Temps  
mort’, for these images are in that duality of time being close and  
very distant at the same time”. (Mohamed Bourouissa)

Shelly Silver, What I’m Looking For (US, 2004, 15′)
“‘I am looking for people who would like to be photographed in  
public revealing some part of themselves (physical or otherwise). This  
is for an art project. No other relationship will take place outside  
of being photographed.’ My ad received many responses, mostly from  
men. After they initiated contact, I would set up a meeting where I  
would try to capture photographically whatever these people wanted to  
show me. Early on I realized that much of what they wanted to reveal  
couldn’t be contained in still photos, and I started integrating  
these images into a video. The fifteen-minute video is a riff on this  
adventure, a somewhat fictionalized version of the strange intimacies  
and connections formed between my subjects and I. (…) It is the first  
video I’ve made utilizing the internet, both as subject and resource  
and I was amazed by the incredible richness of interaction possible on  
the web, the unexpected play of fantasy, projection and desire as well  
as how boundaries between public and private are navigated differently  
than in actual physical space. When I moved, with my camera, from  
virtual to the actual space, I found my focus turning to the central  
importance of evidence of the physical world; exulting in the lush  
intimacy of details, the wrinkles on an ear, the spidered veins in the  
white of an eye, the elegant curve of the nape of the neck, the  
irregular rhythm of crooked front teeth…” (Shelly Silver)

Ruti Sela & Maayan Amir, Beyond Guilt #1 (IL, 2003, 9′30”)
The first part of a video trilogy, in which Ruti Sela and Maayan Amir  
focus on and play with the distorted power relationship between the  
photographer and the photographed subject, between the public domain  
and the private sphere. Sela and Amir proceed through the underworld  
of Tel Aviv’s busy nightlife, its dark night clubs and musty hotel  
rooms, unveiling, through a stimulating game of provocation and  
exposure, the influence of media on the expressions and compulsions of  
subdued drive and desire. This video documents their meetings in the  
toilets of pick-up bars with youngsters who talk to the camera about  
their sexual escapades and fantasies. Under the seemingly banal  
surface of their revelations lies the deep influence of the Israeli  
political and military apparatus (and the ideological positioning  
towards what Israelis euphemistically refer to as “hamatzav” –  
the situation), which unrelentingly permeates the most intimate  
spheres of their psyche.


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