Thursday, May 11, 2006


Sala as an antidote for Barney

The lines you are about to read are stones carefully laid down for you. In order to start sliding through the following paragraphs, my (quite rampant) request –with a Zizekian enfant terrible attitude- from the reader is for him to walk slowly on this stony road –with patience. Because both Matthew Barney and Sala demand this from us with their contents and claims. Those who want to do so, might go on and change the channel to continue with structuralist readings of Star Wars. Today in cinema our interest (at least my interest) centres on escape -break from the discourse rather than structure. All this is meaningful –again- within the language problematic. Finally, if language is a structure, we were doomed to be imprisoned here.

EPISODE I –The Fall of the Truth

In this worldliness that we are lost, we hold on to certain piece-islands that bring us together with light and meaning in inter-times. These pieces in a sense work as ‘representation tools of the world’ and show us how truth disappears from illusionary perspectives. Everything up to here is from Paul Virilio. Among the pieces that we hold on to, the phenomenon of Matthew Barney that has been bedazzling us for years has a distinctive place. If understanding today’s world / art is to approach art as a language, then it is essential to deal with the aesthetics that Barney offers. Barney’s ‘balance of horror’ can in a sense be understood with visual alphabets that create their own codes within and that are
provided with transitions between past, present and future. At this stage, when we evaluate editing in films, we realize the impossibility of solving Barney’s language without getting lost in his strategies. This is somewhat like not being able to beat Kasparov without playing chess. As Paul Virilio readers are
familiar with, the question of the aesthetics of extinction of reality in image empires and the acceleration of truth is very related to our situation. It is at this point that Barney’s works become meaningful. The basic area that the artist works to create a unique cinema combining two distinct traditions such as
sculpture and performance is the cultural metamorphosis that the body produces while becoming physical. In other words, the forms of meaning and culture that the body produces as a physical reality. At this point, Deleuze’s help is inevitable. The operation and form of the society of control and its fictitious nature and operation are created through ritual and the contemporality of that which becomes ritual. Barney produces films that can be read both with Virilio’s and Deleuze’s works and he screens them not only in galleries and museums but also movie theaters. His professionalism that also includes solving production and PR problems shows also how much he knows about the system. This is a
situation similar to Fight Club’s box office success.

EPISODE II – The Ressurection of Truth

Anri Sala, born in Tiran, is a young artist who lives in Berlin. In his works, mainly videos, we can see that movement slows down, the image approximates painting and there is almost no camera movement. Through the details that emerge as we watch and visual awarness, Sala follows the path of that which ‘appears.’ Anri Sala carries within his works the concept of existence that renders possible the confrontation of things in real sense –that a good Heidegger reader will remember as (Verlassenheit) or (Geworfenheit), and he insists on telling ‘the end’ without showing it. If we consider the forms of existence that emerge from within life and remind us of ‘finity’ which is the basis of Heidegger’s philosophy, Sala’s photograph, “no baragan! no cry!” (2002), becomes very meaningful. A white horse left on a metal cylinder is similar to an ordinary mythical scene, but very real at the same time. On a roof, in the blueness of the sky, it is both fiction and reality. Sala’s choice of editing and atmospheres are the areas where his works ‘twist.’ Sala is in a sense an antidote because he prefers the characters that clash with ‘the creature that is towards death’ in Heidegger’s sense. He awakens what Barney codes as plastic reality, the world that slides from a plane of science fiction to a plane of knowledge-fictional with ‘the reality of death.’ From the sleep of speed. This fracture is actually a darkness that cuts the dazzling light of Barney!

EPISODE III – Who wins?

Barney and Sala can be considered together with their works that feed on sculpture and performance and stratify through the nature of speed-movement of image. This exercise will give us many clues on the whereabouts of future cinema. The effect that Barney creates by using a dystopian montage which I call ‘New-Nightmare-ism’ clashes with Sala as its antidote while he plasticizes Barney and brings to world a form of abstraction through pleasure. Actually the car that moves from city A towards the one that moves from city B first clash, then are reborn in a Spinoza-like imagination of physicality. For the poison and its antidote, to go back to the source of desire, to flow, look for the next encounter as they domesticate language.

Finally, if cinema is to move beyond the non-linear and collage montage that it deals with for the last ten years, the resurrection of the story is a must for a new language of cinema. The condition of both of them to be obsessed with sculpture is the evidence; the cinematic element as an elevated object will always and inevitably win. The body lives, the language remembers.


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