— Delphine Bedel

Press: Playtime in Orange (UK)

Catalogue: Exhibition ‘Disobedience’ An ongoing  video library
Curated by Marco Scottini. 13 January- 27 February 2005
Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien
& PLAY Gallery, Berlin

Playtime in Orange
by Jota Castro

Disobedience is the watchword of the day. It manifested globally and it seems that it is primary linked to a new brand of individualism that generates the desire – especially acute in the western world – to change a place rite with contradictions, a place in which the most conservatives forms of nationalism are intermingled with a fear of a much broader, more open world than the one presented by the dominant ideologies of our area.

This is probably why the artistic world – individualistic by nature – reveals to us a vast potential for protest and we can see that the ideological fumes of the past century can be an excellent basis for new forms of basic expression. How can we prevent ideological gaps from being the only thing that will survive over time for most of the artistic works conceived up to our modern days? I am not posing these questions because I want an immediate answer, but rather, in order to use them as a basis for future investigation. Indeed, immediate responses are usually given to show empathy, something that I don’t care for at all.

My choice for the Disobedience project, something I really don’t care for at all. My choice for the Disobedience project originates from my doubts about the methods with which this sort of social behavior is reflected in the artistic sphere. My own project develops from a comparison between various videos. The ones chosen by Pierre Olivier Rollin show historic moments of protests in Belgium, classic in their methods, representative of the strikes, imbued by forms, which are indissoluble from their social context. My own video “Eurotrucks’ was produced in 2000 during the European lorry drivers’ strike that brought the capital of Europe to a standstill of several days. This video captures the lorries as they use their klaxon to perform a musical piece in Rue de la Loi (literally avenue of the Law in French), headquarters of the European commission. The idea is simple: compare the brutality of this blockade with the alluring and unexpected image of a young woman conducting an orchestra of five klaxons, bringing a bit of optimism to a situation that was becoming burdensome for the strikers, the residents and the officials of the European Community district, during one of the first unified strikes in the history of the European Union. Pierre-Olivier Rollin’s choice and my own illustrate difficult moments of protest in the political life of the Benelux. The third part of my selection presents new way of communicate Disobedience, without apparent ‘virility’, without the need to express a Messianic rage before the video camera. My choices allowed me to compare the origin of our generational wrath with the reality of the European context in 2005.

Playtime, the video by the French artist Delphine Bedel, projects the nude body of a young woman on a screen while image of a stroll through the city of Nagele, the Netherlands, are projected onto another screen. Nagele is a city built in the polder (land reclaimed from the sea) and was created by a team of architects to match as closely as possible the Utopian idea of the modern city of the last century: egalitarian, repetitive, free of contradictions and populated by a group of people, carefully selected according to set of strict criteria that would be unconceivable for any person of sound mind in the year 2005. The population has the same religion, social standing, origin, ancestry, parameter of health, and similar respect for the traditions of others. Rereading what I have written, I notice that these selection process of the new member states of the European Union. Playtime uses and plays on the idea of a desire to change, the same desire that the Ukrainians are voicing today by swathing their cities’ streets in orange. Compare the image of the naked body of a woman, with all of its imperfections, speckled with moles and blemishes, lying as if abandoned on a white surface, in stark contrast with the city of Nagele which slides downward in a continental, egalitarian boredom, that precipitates into the desire to maintain its conquests, to not lose what makes Europe a model of social progress and hold onto what makes it vulnerable in the face of what seems to dissipate the past, what is disobeyed. A man’s hand makes irregular lines along the woman’s nude shoulders with seeming disrespect for border and preset lines of logic, not asking for nay type of conservation, but rather, seeking changes in this disarray. This is why playtime represents an artistic shock that I’ve endured in the recent years. The vision of this video elicits in me the desire to shatter everything that is known: it justifies the first change, which begins with the individual, which is compulsory to have an intellectual integrity and honesty with respect to one’s area. This nude back is our continent, the hand that traces the lines represents generational research of social progress and Nagele stands for the monotony of today’s Europe.

That is why Disobedience is the first step of a research and not the proof of an intellectual superiority is all we can hope for in this dawn of 2005.

Installation view

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