Paris, Institut finlandais

Interactive video installation for video-projector, rocking chair and scissors.
18 video editings, approx. 2’’ each.

The final exhibition space houses a rocking chair that the visitor may sit in, if he so wishes. When he sits down and tilts the rocking chair forward towards the ground or back into space he initiates a double voyage, both into the past and into the future. Depending on which direction he chooses to tilt the rocking chair, the object confronts the user with memories that remind him of his childhood or of the distress that the idea of no longer existing could cause. As it goes back and forth it incarnates the dynamics of his thoughts and follows the flow of his individual journey.

A pair of scissors attached by a green a ribbon to the rocking chair frame evokes a figurative reference to The Seamstress by Helene Schjerfbeck. In the likeness of a crane with sharp beak it also refers to Hitchcock’s film, presented here in the form of eighteen extracts at the heart of the installation. As with the opening of the box in Pandora or the lifting of the receiver in Scream the movement of the chair controls the appearance of a series of filmic images, which are projected onto a screen located behind the person seated in the rocking chair. The sequences are extracts from The Birds which precede and recount the attack at the Bodega Bay school. They also establish – without the seated visitor knowing it – a link between his attitude and that of Melanie, who is shown seated out of the way, smoking a cigarette and waiting for the children to leave the classroom and go outside to play.

When they are not constructing this affinity between the visitor and the character of Melanie, the projected images are collected into three figurative groups displayed randomly, i.e., images of crows flying in the air, landing on the metal bars of a monkey’s cage or flying off it. In reference to a metaphor developed by Hitchcock in The Birds, these three actions by the birds propose insights into the melancholy of the seated visitor. They epitomise the onset of dark ideas carried along by their approach to touch the visitor momentarily, to seize control of him or to leave him be.

The monkey’s cage, where the crows land, appears regularly in the shots from the film projected in this installation. The cage is reminiscent of a giant birthday cake and the crows that perch on it appear as so many birthday candles on top. With their sudden appearance behind the visitor, the crows mark the passage of years. They provide their own take on this tumbling from one age of life to the next, from one stage of existence to another, which is exemplified in a spatial context by each of the movements of the rocking chair.

The presence of the crane, the rocking chair, the scissor blades (and their inclusion at the end of the exhibition journey), the to-ing and fro-ing movement of the rocking chair comparable to the dynamics of swinging between the pictorial images in Self-Portrait with Metronome – even the turning around of a visitor who wishes to take in the images projected behind him – are all elements which refer to the sequence in Psycho where the body of Mrs. Bates is discovered, and, more generally, to the other violent sequences in the 1959 film.

Where the reference to The Birds tends to favour a return to infancy and to manipulate a withdrawal back in time via the implicit involvement of the schoolchildren, the reference to Psycho is far more of an incitation to the visitor to look forward in time to the moment of his death. As opposed to the melancholy of Helene Schjerfbeck’s The Seamstress, Psycho prefers to articulate the questioning of each one of our fates through a confrontation that echoes the general themes of the Tests of time series.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet