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Two framed books + video piece

Two Children’s Books is a triptych made of two framed books – The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende and The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama – and a screen placed in the middle showing nine video-fragments on a loop.

The first apprehension when you see this piece is the opposition between a scholar’s book – supposedly valid because based on facts – and a fantasy novel that would in a classification be based on imagination thus considered less serious. Why did you create this antithesis?

The paradox is that for me the imaginary of Ende is more valid than the tale constructed by Fukuyama. While Fukuyama tell us the big story of the end of the century, fixing the horizon of the end that we are still struggling against, Michael Ende imagines an open tale for his hero Bastian, a little boy who is faced with the vertigo of understanding that the story he is reading is not fixed and that he has a role in co-writing it. Bastian is not struggling against evil forces – as in an American proposition – but he acts against Nothingness. He is trying to empower the forces of imagination and the imaginary world – Fantasia – against the Nothing, or I would say against melancholy or depression. In a sort of Ernst Bloch way the forces of Utopia struggle against the melancholic horizon of the end of the last man and try to impute in the world a force of imagination.

Is this triptych is a piece on the limits of determinism and the potentiality of utopia?

I would say that in a sense Two Children’s Books is a piece on fiction and reality. We are working on a moment when the end of history is pretended to be reality but it is a fiction, it is a story. On the other side, what it seems to be a fiction – the Michael Ende book – is actually producing reality, it is producing a story, a history. By putting them at the same level I am creating an equivalence relation. They are two tales and it’s up to you to decide in which tale do you want to believe? Can the force of imagination write history or are statistics and experts confiscating reality? The video fragments are working on this thin line where everything is intertwined where reality is composed of layers of fiction and where fiction – in a way – produces reality.

Although you used documentary footage together with amateurish images, 3D simulations and virtual scenes, these fragments extrapolated from their context seem to intertwine and to construct a narrative. Is this a real story or fiction?

What I do with this material is transforming it; by converting the footage in black and white and slowing down the movement it gets to a point when it is very complicated to distinguish what is a video game, what are computer generated images, what are footage from Iraq and which are real buildings. The resolution is very low which is for me representative of the state of the image at the beginning of the 21st century: amateurish, touristy and redundant. The piece looks quite hypnotically. It shows the vertigo, the difficulty that we have to dissociate reality from fiction. All those layers of images construct our reality. Those nine videos point out our abstract relation to reality. In conclusion I would say that Two Children’s Books is a piece on the pedagogy of vertigo, through the semiotic struggle the viewer is invited to learn how to live within these layers of fiction.

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