Ghosting, a large-scale installation in the form of a permanent stage set, rekindles mounir fatmi's reflection on media images and the way they are constructed, broadcast, transformed, preserved and fantasized...
Ghosting, a large-scale installation in the form of a permanent stage set, rekindles mounir fatmi's reflection on media images and the way they are constructed, broadcast, transformed, preserved and fantasized over. The back wall is made up of video cassettes, objects once used for transmission and image copying: now all but obsolete and repurposed by the artist in his recurrent use of their formal qualities. The magnetic tape wrenched from the cassettes spreads across the ground like a glossy oil slick, a tsunami of potential images - pale copies or ghosts of images - creeping up to photocopiers positioned in several parts of the installation. These photocopiers, reminiscent of the world of work and administration - the flip side of every society's common decor - are also copying tools on the way to being supplanted by other means of diffusion. Here they are left at the visitors' disposal and when activated, trigger that characteristic flash of white light. The light is diffused and only a spectral shadow of the image intended for duplication is captured, and even this progressively disappears, so all that's left is an absence. What remains of this action? What remains of the thing that copies our memories? On the eve of modernity, Feuerbach had already predicted: “the present age...prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, appearance to essence…”*. Ghosting is a temple, an out-dated temple, devoted to duplication.
« Mehr Licht ! » : More light! were reputedly Goethe's last words. Painted on the wall, these dying words shed new light on the installation. The expression, « more light! », which became almost commonplace in the author's native tongue, demands more knowledge and truth. Knowledge, mounir fatmi knows, is the only weapon against prejudice, violence and extremism; he is wary of truth in its dogmatic form, but also calls on it by sometimes choosing to use violent images. mounir fatmi explains: terrorism is developing an image-spectacle aesthetic as a powerful supplementary weapon of manipulation. It must be appropriated, confronted, the mechanism dismantled and the charge defused. By creating violent images and imbuing them with a poetic dimension, mounir fatmi attempts to deconstruct the mechanism of fear and instill another meaning. There are no images without light, and yet, in the media maelstrom sucking up everything in its path with its phenomenal power of attraction, doesn't everything risk being reduced to a light without name or sign? On the wall, a video displays a series of luminous circles of calligraphy, which seem to tear away from the dark heaviness of the background. They rotate in a chaplinesque motion, imperative and unrelenting in one direction, then the other, faster and faster until the calligraphy words, which most of us don't understand, disappear before our eyes, giving way to a sort of universal image of white and light. Are we witness to the dissolution of signs that leads to a universal ideal? Or the disappearance of knowledge in a spectral void?
More light. More spectacle with its notions of spotlights, images and entertainment. mounir fatmi deliberately integrates this dimension into his work, showing a 'spectacular' installation, which mixes two aspects of « the society of the spectacle » as described by Guy Debord. These two aspects: the audio-visual and bureaucracy, come under the same ideology of representing the world as image and copy. Since Debord, we have seen that postmodern societies, capable of producing images in industrial quantities as well as the means of diffusing them, are societies organised in and around the spectacle. But the spectacle that the artist shows is that of the end. The installation is spectacular but obsolete, its semblance of interactivity outmoded. The advent of the digital age has plunged us into a new era. Image supports are becoming virtual, the mediation of the copy is being replaced by the identical and the transmission of images and information is becoming instantaneous. Artifacts are becoming surfaces without a support. This immediacy of media undoubtedly makes the world even more spectacular, but with the risk of reducing the time for critical detachment, indignation or response, to nothing.