Ink Red!


Paris, Galerie Poggi et Bertoux associés

Video installation for desktop computer and mobile phone.
16:9 computer desktop screen, mobile phone, London 53 and Spicy Red 146 nail polish, Tipp-Ex correction fluid.
Two videos, 2 mn 55 and 18 sec.

This piece is built around a very short shot of Marnie (from Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie, 1964), in which the character played by Tippi Hedren, having been hired as a secretary under the false identity of Mary Taylor, scrutinizes accounting records. Shown on a computer screen next to which two bottles of nail polish, a bottle of correction fluid, and a mobile phone (on which a very short excerpt from the film, showing a finger running over a newspaper’s classified pages, plays on a loop) have been placed, the video shows the young woman alternately handling the top to a bottle of red ink, taking up a nib pen from the table, consulting a document before her, and dipping the tip of her pen into the colored liquid.

Vacillating between excessive diligence and avoidance of responsibilities, a certain punctiliousness in her work and a total inefficiency in carrying it out, the young woman leaves the viewer with almost no grasp on the act she is performing. The repetition, the alternation of her movements (edited to take place without pause), and their apparent endlessness still dehumanize secretarial work, underscoring the absurd and alienating aspects that can characterize the organization of work, its pace, and the effects it has on employees.

The video’s actions all converge on a red ink stain that Marnie/Mary ends up spilling onto her shirtsleeve after several minutes. Long contained, the color finally forces itself into the image, bringing the film’s action to an abrupt end. It acquires a strongly symbolic dimension, as it does in Marnie, that can lend itself to multiple different interpretations depending on the perspective chosen (be it political, sociological, psychological, philosophic, or simply aesthetic).

Hitchcock’s shot makes implicit reference to Vermeer’s The Lacemaker, which the installation reinterprets through its appropriation of the image. By reworking the images from Marnie, the video endeavors, through its sustained rhythm and incessant movements back and forth between each part of the shot, to restore the specific aspects of the pictorial figure’s engagement in her work and of the work’s composition itself (left, like the secretary’s work, totally beyond the spectator’s view). Moreover, it’s structure is reminiscent of the red thread slipping out of the sewing cushion in the foreground of Vermeer’s painting -a thread whose color heralds the incident evoked in the film excerpt and which seems to methodically retrace the movement of the character’s pen.

The reference of a constant sliding between classified ads for sewing and secretarial work playing on the mobile phone video elucidates the gradual composition of a red thread woven by Hitchcock’s character. It underscores the invisible link holding the work together, from beginning to end, like sewing thread, before its extremity reveals its presence.

As such, the piece works to implicitly introduce a color whose importance is only revealed at the end of the video, as though it were infused in an invisible ink that suddenly reveals itself in a certain light. That is, unless the viewer, relying on his familiarity with the video or his knowledge of Hitchcock’s film, is gripped by the expectation of the imminent or the materialization of the incident, and takes a wicked pleasure from imagining or anticipating it. Ink-redible!

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet