Self Unfinished in 105 Screen Shots

 

2020, Photographies of screen shots

 

Series of pictures of screen shots made every 30 secondes on a video documentation of the choreography Self Unfinished, 1998

 

I am often asked to present a video, which is a recording of a piece actually made to be presented as an execution of actions by one or more performers in the presence of an audience. And as with Olivier Kaeser's invitation for the Dance First Think Later exhibition, this is often the case for Self Unfinished, which is a solo piece created in 1998 that I usually perform myself.
Most of the time, my first response to this request or question is: why not show the piece itself? I am often told that it is a question of budget, of unsuitable space, or of limiting the exhibition to objects on which attention can float or rest.
In this case, the video of Self Unfinished made by Andrea Kiez in Berlin in 2003, is not the work, it is a document of the work. I am therefore invited to present a work of art in the same way as installations, sculptures, collages, photos, video projections, instead of a « live performance".
So the recording document of the work is expected to replace the actual artwork. The video transforms then a physical perception in scopic, distant relation. And especially, the experience of time becomes random. Yet the total duration is essential to the work, the unfolding of the choreography is realized to produce meaning that results from each moment that follows in an order that forms this duration. It is necessary to experience it from beginning to end. But the exhibition space is not designed to allow for this type of experience unless a program is created to ensure that visitors can find similar conditions. But often the video is not installed and circumscribed with the standards of a cinema, with a schedule (and can one imagine being locked in so as not to leave from the beginning to the end, paying the entrance fee for that room in the museum, physically feeling the discomfort of leaving a show or a cinema before the end...). Watching a video is generally of the order of a walk, of a fragment.
In order not to answer negatively to this kind of invitation once again, I tried to answer the following question: How to transform Self Unfinished so that the piece becomes an object of experience in which the free movement in space and the choice of time spent by each visitor in front of a work is respected and usable? How to let visitors choose their time and their movements without having to ask them to behave in ways other than those that an exhibition space proposes at first sight? How to transform Self Unfinished into another piece that could play this game instead of showing a document of the piece whose parameters of presentation in an art exhibition would be in contradiction with the piece as it was conceived?
Self Unfinished in 105 screenshots, 2020, is an answer to this question, it is an object created to be exhibited. An object that is a form given to Self Unfinished to experience it with a time and duration that each visitor can compose in the same way as his or her space.
Xavier Le Roy, January 2021



Dance First Think Later, Bâtiment d’art contemporain (BAC), Geneva - Switzerland
2020/08/21