Rockefeller Boulevard, A Collaborative Works With Mieke Bal


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Rockefeller Boulevard, video, PaL, 2004, 06:00 min, color, sound

He came to find work, but industry is over.

The wind blows fiercely; the legs of his pants flip-flop, showing the thinness of the fabric. He must be cold, and the hot climate of his home emerges by contrast. Just as the media of photography and video, here, are set off against each other. If you need a story, it would be this. With the two suitcases that mark his recent arrival, he explores different sites on a large, impenetrable space. The industrial area of a city that is long past its economic flourish. He walks past huge oil containers, that ironic icon of the Mid-West’s appropriation of the middle-East’s natural riches. Then, looking around, sitting at a picnic table, peeping into broken windows. In the distance, a chimney still vomits clouds, unreachably far-away symptoms of possibility; a reminder of what he came to search. But he is irremediably late. Industry is over.

But this story is out of joint. The video is constantly interrupted by an audio and video stagnation: to the sound of the motor of a stationary car the image stops, turns grainy until it has lost all visibility. The bits of moving image are powerless against the almost violent way photography takes over, in turn overtaken by pointillistic drawing. Since he never reaches any destination, the obsoleteness of the industrial building loses its relevance. For historical time always holds the promise of a return of the swing, an utopian possibility that things will get better. The halting rhythm of this video holds such false promises at arm’s lengt.

It fits the mood of Rockefeller Boulevard that the audio-visual stagnation is set in grey tones, only sparsely interrupted by sap green and ochre, with a grey-blue sky. These colors disappear along with the readable image when the interruptions occur. Only grey survives the destruction of the image into shimmering pixels. The colours of painting cannot hold up against the reproducible images that have taken over the public domain. In this sense, this video is also a meditation on the monopoly of electronic media, the accounts to be settled with the arts of the past, and the new art that can emerge when all else fails. This, too, is a commentary on the culture of migrancy.