Florence Lam
11.10.2020 @Hidden Space

A mainstream European furniture company was found to be buying wood illegally logged from an ancient Ukrainian forest, very close to the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Wooden furniture built by this company and sold around Europe is not only illegally sourced but potentially radioactive.

The film Stalker, by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, was released in 1979, seven years before the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Stalker’s themes and imagery matched so eerily well with Chernobyl that some read it as Tarkovsky predicting the disaster, which in turn preceded the fall of the Soviet Union - Ukraine became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Inspired by these two entwined elements, variations in the rhythms of human emotions are explored, manifested through a juxtaposition of times: the sudden ‘stop of time’ coming from the instant shock and emptiness one experiences when reading about the scandal of the furniture company, comparing with the continuous, repetitive, rhythmical camera movement and head movements of the actors in the film, a mythical, unending, indeterminate time. This work explores the causal relationship and connection between an artistic production and reality, how it affects the rhythm of human emotions and how this might feed into a change in reality.

A video is presented in a split screen: the lower part shows the scene from Stalker where the three main characters are travelling on a trolley towards the forbidden Zone that everyone “fears like plague”. However, their goal there is a room that grants the deepest desires of anyone who enters it. On the upper half of the screen, a remake of the same scene plays, this one shot in Hong Kong, imitating the composition and head movements of the original. These scenes happen within the non-space of transition: the body is on the move through time, whereas emotions are being processed within the person’s body in a different time and space frame. The video is contained within the structure of a wooden bed frame, referencing the scandal and acting as a physical container of the metaphysical and emotional effects of such happenings, that reverberate for generations. Combining with live improvised actions, the performance installation will transform continuously throughout the duration of the exhibition.