“Any resemblance to actual events can not be excluded. However: while this ‘mise-en-scene’ and editing feels like a non-fiction story, it is still fiction. But it is the kind of fiction that critically questions you as a viewer, so as to make you you waver between discomfort and pleasure, between seriousness and the comfort of the stagelights. On an ethical level you tergiversate between different stories, but at the same time the question arises: What times are we talking about? A burning actuality in view of the recent elections.”
The process of my work is expressed in the gradual development of portraits, which give the viewers the possibility to create their own judgement – without getting too comfortable doing that.
Getting acquainted with a situation in fieldwork happens through a phenomenological approach: catching textural and gestural reflections in the material.Theory is developed along the process. In my editing, I can see better; I can negotiate preconceptions through the material I collected. Freely shifting the time to judge by extracting the ticking clock. The final message is rather a multiple framework for critical observation than a condemnation. I choreographically combine and work out the recorded field notes. The presented material sometimes asks for a spatial setting. Spectators can choose their own rhythm and position of perception.
In my documentary Parking B, the theatre maker Thomas Belling describes in an interview how he experienced the collaboration of art school students and the “sans papiers” during the 2009 hunger strike in a university’s subterranean parking lot, in order to achieve a coherent regularisation procedure.
For the famished hunger strikers, there seemed no space left for artistic nuances: in such a precarious situation, you are or with the fight or you are against it. The documentary students in the project that stubbornly insisted on nuances were not allowed to come back.
Sloterdijk named polemic simplification as important for the creation of a “fighting realism”. “Mein Kampf” also describes this as an essential propaganda method. Polemic simplification is always something to deal with and an important theme in my work.
In “Devoir de mémoire” for example, I don’t want to accuse “Living History” re-enactors as propagators of Nazi ideology, but I can say their scenarios are equally simplifications of reality.
The first reason for these simplifications is formulated as keeping a respectful distance to the contemporaries of WWII and their families. A second reason is pragmatic: the narrative is directed by the accessibility of available resources, like costumes and machines. Next to that, a game scenario provides entertaining action for the participants and the public.
In my work, I aim to de-simplify, while in the final product I have to keep in mind the same demands for communicability. In “Devoir de Mémoire”, I achieve this balancing act by including surrounding elements in my compositions. Faded out by the game scenario reality but still visible to the camera: architecture, neighbours, visitors and photographers.
All of these elements are then combined in the scenographic setting of the installation. You can sit and listen closely, but you can also step back and watch the whole machine, all the communicating images, forming new combinations over and over again.
The moving spectators are perceptible to eachother. They are sharing part of their experience and reaction in this installation setting. That way, the installation is not only a set-up mirroring relations which may have come into existence during recording and editing. The spectators, meeting or even avoiding eachother, become participants in the creation of meaning.