Looking back looking back. I’ve been thinking about a video-installation I made 16 years ago, at college.
I filmed myself sitting in front of a 1000 Watt lamp, for approx. 40 sec. (enough to lightly burn the skin on my face), then painstakingly edited the material, running footage backwards and forwards and cutting and joining together tiny increments, deciseconds long. Thus I extended the footage to 4,49 minutes, achieving a sense of endurance in a way that made it look quite natural. The small movement of the fingers, the occasional gentle heaving of the chest interwove with moments of death-like stillness. The performer’s/my identity, while under scrutiny, remained elusive in the process – the light had a similar effect to darkness, obliterating the face. I was interested in the tensions evoked conceptually and visually – between interrogator and the person who is interrogated, inner life and surface, truth and falsehood, real time and constructed time, still image and moving image, etc. Neither one nor the other, but always in-between and both.
At the time I was exploring issues around German identity, the weight of history, the holocaust, and as you know I keep returning there, albeit in very different ways. What is interesting to me is how I approached the subject then. I spent ages in the editing suite, making miniscule edits, arranging and rearranging the tiniest snippets. It seems to me that this compulsive focus on the incremental, the fragment, helped me bear exploring the larger picture. In a way I made (make?) myself into a kind of camera-lens in close-up mode, staring at a pinprick-sized part of a huge wound. At the same time it was quite an intimate process, a thorough inspection of the image itself (of myself myself?). I can’t remember if I made the work before or after I saw the Riefenstahl film, with which I in effect did something very similar, choosing one detail to focus on, allowing a sideways look at the larger picture. At college I was steeped in theory, reading Barthes, Blanchot, Derrida, Hal Forster… That’s certainly different now, my M.E.-frazzled brain doesn’t easily cope with such complex and often abstract reading, but I hope it still works away at the back of my mind. I wonder about the space between the intangibility of the video-image and the materiality of my crochet-outfits, as well as the shared elements, i.e. putting something together edit by edit, stitch by stitch. On the whole my work seems to have slipped deeper into the body, but in terms of how it gets under my skin nothing has changed.