Pandora

2003


Hyvinkää, Hyvinkään taidemuseo




Interactive video installation for video-projector, box, prints and objects.
2 video editings, 20’’ and 1’ 30’’.






Whereas Suspended Time tries to hold back Time, endeavouring to imprison it and cut off its flow, Pandora seeks to hasten its passage. A closed box is presented on a pedestal in the first exhibition room. Next to it is the projection of a hand reaching towards, then withdrawing from, a door handle. The effect of this is that the visitor is both motivated to touch the object and to leave it alone, and must decide whether or not to give into the temptation to open it.

Opening the box triggers the projection of an excerpt from The Birds showing the final attack on Melanie at the Brenner house. The sequence is deeply violent, with a tempo dictated by the relentless wave of birds striking and wounding the protagonist’s body. While the installation refers to the myth of Pandora, it also evokes the escaping of time. A play on mirrors makes the birds fleeing from the box seem like grains of sand falling from a giant hourglass. Liberated, the birds fly up to one of the walls of the exhibition room.

The evocation of the wounded Melanie transforms the way that visitors relate to this passing of Time, as it illustrates the distress that a person can feel faced with the idea that they are powerless to contain it. Here, Time overflows and the subject is perilously caught up in its surge. In this irrepressible state it submerges and carries the subject away into its vortex.

The open cage of Suspended Time has already forewarned that a spilling out is imminent, highlighting both Time’s predisposition to escape and its volatile nature. However, unlike the first installation, Pandora directly associates this flux with the attitude of the visitor, placing the onus on him by making him responsible for controlling its fate. Unlike Melanie, the visitor can, at any moment, close the box and stop the projection that he has triggered. He is thus both free to let the flood of images escape, or make it disappear after setting it off.

Pandora introduces one of the main principles of the exhibition. Its triggering device provokes the visitor not to remain passive before the installations but to take an active role with each one. A person can only experience the flood of images enclosed in the box through a conscious physical act. And only by experiencing the images does he have the potential to learn from them.

The work of art is presented like a well that the spectator must dare to enter at the risk of being submerged by his emotions – a stirring of the soul elicited by the depiction of Melanie suddenly being drowned by the assault of the birds. The extract is not simply there to perturb the visitor through the depiction of the injuries or the portrayal of the torment, rather the point of the installation is to reveal certain aspects in the work of art that make an impression on whoever it succeeds in touching.

As soon as the box is opened, the projected beam released may shine directly on the visitor, imprinting its mark on him. This fleeting impression is recognition of the potential impact that both Hitchcock’s masterpiece and various Schjerfbeck self-portraits can have on their audience. The reproductions of these self-portraits appear – as in the cages of Suspended Time – stored within the box. The installation ventures that this impact will hit the visitor and throw the force of his emotions back at him, as if revealed by a mirror, which is utilised beyond its traditional context in the painting of Vanity.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet