This experience had
for setting the city of Cologne in June 1976. The idea can
appear some absurd to the first look. It was born from an
empty apartment. This apartment pending of renting, momentarily
available, has been placed at my disposal by a German friend
who was the owner of it. Big apartment of bourgeois type,
to the third floor of an old building of character, giving
directly on one the most sought-after parks of the city. Residential
place particularly appreciated by the comfortable layers of
the population, but also place of implantation of numerous
commercial societies like head office, displaying the mark
of a certain status. The apartment, although in disrepair,
with its wallpaper with flowers, pulled off by whole flaps,
and its holes in the walls plugged to the hurry, rather inspires
to the visitorís look a feeling of comfort and luxury. Feeling
bound directly to its surface (160 square meters about). Indeed,
in a type of urban concentration as offers to us our society,
where it constantly has the tendency to shrink, the space
constitutes in itself the individual's real luxury. By its
measurements, and because it is absolutely empty, with the
exception of some rubbles on ground, the apartment provokes
a way of shock on the visitor. This shock, I didn't miss,
myself, to feel it whereas I crossed it in a merely circumstantial
way at the time of my first visit.
BIRTH OF THE VIDEO FAMILY.
It is of this shock
that sprang in my mind the curious idea of the video family.
Each knows, by experience, that all empty piece offers a special
echo, a particular resonance that gives to the voices a strange
vibration - that gives to the noises of all nature an extension
that stretches them in the time - sometimes creating a shift
disturbing where the past seems to make irruption in the present
by the persistence of some indications or their recurrence.
Resonant sensations accompanied by a spatial impression very
close to those that affect our ear in the evenings of summer,
when arrive to us, by the open windows, the levels superimposed
of the sound multiplied of a same program distributed by the
multitude of the televisions of a whole district. Only for
a moment in this desolate apartment, plunged in a second condition,
then I started hearing like a species of echo of the voices
of the past, the talks, the dialogues of those that had been
the last occupants of it. I imagined their daily life in this
circumscribed universe. I started reconstituting, scrap by
scrap, the fine thread of these existence at the same time
so exceptional and so banal... Ebb against the current of
some brief retorts emerging sudden among the blades of the
floor, or seeming to fall right of the ceiling. Truncated
talks thrown from a piece to the other. Whispers, laughters,
whispers, wild race of children. Sharp voice of a woman eructating
a reprimand. Door that slaps. Long silence. Silence cut with
an obsessional thoroughness by the regular ticking of a clock.
Borborygmeses and hiccups of the tubings. Restitution of the
daily triviality of which the accumulation of details ends
up inspiring an irresistible fascination way: restitution
of a family's life. The shock had made be born this family.
It was sufficient to give a name to this family: the Video
Family will be the name.
FROM THIS FICTIONAL
It is from this fictional
family, born of my imagination following my fortuitous meeting
with this apartment, that developed itself the action that
I am going to describe below. This action, to which I assign
an artistic and sociological character, took place in several
a) Publication in the
daily press of Cologne of a set of announcements (these announcements
appear in the market of the real estate). They propose, under
an unusual shape, the renting of an apartment. This apartment
is occupied currently by the Video family that can be visited!
b) Previous realization
of six video tapes destined to be distributed in the places,
on the day foreseen for the action. Five among them represent
each of the family's personages. The sixth gathers them during
one domestic meal in the kitchen.
c) In each of the empty
pieces of the apartment is installed an autonomous video equipment,
either a total of six video recorders accompanied by the corresponding
monitors. A supplementary monitor equips the lounge to distribute
there in direct between 6 P.M. and 8 P.M. the program of the
first TV channel.
d) Systematic answer
to the correspondences following the announcement published
in the newspapers as a circular letter fixing to the whole
of the "candidates" to the renting a visit June 25 between
6 P.M. and 8 P.M. exactly.
e) Postal expedition
of one thousand invitations to the intention of the cultural
public to invite it to visit to the Video Family. This visit
is proposed to the title of a "artistic action": the recipients
are some of the critiques of art, the directors of galleries,
of the museums, the artists, etc. This public is invited in
the same slot that those that will come to rent in fact the
apartment: that means June 25 between 6 P.M. and 8 P.M.
f) On the day and at
the hours fixed for the visit, I assure myself this one, welcoming
the visitors to the entry: provided with a portable video
equipment on which I record each of the guided visits.
Publication of the announcement
in the press:
The announcement has
been written and has been conceived in order to constitute
in itself a provocation for the reader. It will be published
by the two main dailies newspapers of Cologne. It gives a
descriptive of the rooms, affirm that the amount of the renting
rises at most to the price "of an egg and an apple", finally
mentions that it is occupied currently by the Video family!
The Video family, tenant of the apartment, is held at the
disposal of the visitors, and will provide to the concerned
persons, as instructions for use, the recipe of the "perfect"
The announcement in
a first time, is deposited by our cares by telephone. A quarter
of hour later, we are recalled by the direction of the newspaper.
An interlocutor who presents himself as chief of advertisement
of the press group to which belongs this support, informs
us that the announcement won't be able to be published under
this editorial shape. He regrets it personally, well strongly,
and engages us to rephrase the presentation of it. Pushed
by the curiosity, he tries to know more. Of a measured and
very gracious tone, he carries to our knowledge a few elementary
ethical rules that govern the profession. He tempts visibly,
to pierce what hides behind this suspect Video family? But
we hold good: we will have difficulty to reassure him, then
to convince him. To arrive at our ends, we are obliged to
open out the subtlest diplomacy. We let admit him, finally,
that it is not about there, after all, that of an advertising
process "to hang" the customer a little more "artfully". A
professional of the advertisement cannot be insensible to
this type of research! Certainly the text differs somewhat
of the conventions of this kind, but it remains nevertheless
in the setting of a strict legality: This apartment exists
well. It is well to rent! These are there objective facts
that can be comfortably verify. Besides, we are at oneís disposal
to make control it, de visu, if necessary. After ultimate
hesitations our man capitulates under the pressure of our
arguments. Oof! he will give the green light. The announcement
will be published under the foreseen initial shape. It is
the way that the readers of Cologne will learn by reading
of the daily press, in the columns reserved to the market
of the real estate, the existence of this curious Video family.
200 LETTERS FOR ONE
VISIT TO THE VIDEO FAMILY:
The whole of the received
correspondence following the announcement ask multiple questions
on the state of the places, the price and the conditions of
renting, the amount of the loads, the possibility to visit
the Video family Video - essentially, questions about convenient
order, but as some allusions, vaguely formulated and prudent,
on this family with a strange name... Each of the received
correspondences makes the object, in return, of a more detailed
circular that proposes a collective visit for all concerned
persons June 25 between 6 P.M. and 8 P.M. Without to be able
to give any conclusion of it, it is necessary to notice that
a lot of demands emanate of social-professional categories
belonging to the education professions and various professions
of "intellectual" formations. Is this the effect of a pure
luck, or the wording of the announcement played in this sense?
The style of the district is not probably foreign to this
type of potential clientele and it is necessary to see there,
more certainly, the real reasons of this determination. Among
the answers to the announcement: a substantial number of "distinguished"
representatives of the university, some executives of the
administration, three or four architects, some students, couples
of newly-weds, an attaché of embassy of Mali, a theater
writer, and of course, many curious. To this inventory is
necessary to add a humorist that, having perfectly discerned
the satirical side of the announcement, is presented himself
to the appointment with a "egg and an apple" in the hands...
Note finally, in relation to the gotten usual results, on
the same supports of publication, the quantitative output
quite exceptional of our announcement.
The realization of the
video tapes: the portraits of the Video Family
The Video Family is
composed of five members - it is a German family of widespread
type: the father, the mother and the three children. She is
called Video but she would be able to just as well to be called
the family Keller, Lindenberg, or Neumann because we are in
Germany. For the purpose of the critical demonstration of
our action, it was indispensable to present her under a schematic,
grotesque, and stereotyped aspect. Each of the members would
be represented, illustrated, personified, materialized as
a support video that would give him existence for thirty minutes.
Each of the members, during the visit, would occupy a determined
site, designated on the domestic territory. The apartment
would be demarcated by these different presence, relieved
by electronics, defining the different functions of the common
space thus in relation with the different hourly moments of
the day and the night.
Frank and Ulla, the
father and the mother, in their own room, in the evening at
11 P.M. (Face-to-face dialogue of two receptors of television
sending back itself the dialogues).
Andréa, the family's
girl, at 8 A.M., in the bathroom before her departure for
the high school.
Fabian, the boy, with
a girlfriend of games, the neighbor of the underside, in his
room, at 5 P.M.
Christine, three months,
the family's baby screaming deeply, at all hours of the day
and the night.
A supplementary tape
stages the domestic meal of in the evening in presence of
all the members of the family, that takes place ritually in
the kitchen, on sonorous background of plates, spoons and
Finally, an isolated
monitor of television, in permanent working, will occupy the
lounge identified to a sixth "character" of the family. The
device distributes without interruption from 6 P.M. to 8 P.M.
the program of the first German channel. The Video family
meets together there like every evening tat 7.30 P.M. around
this pole. In the device video put in place, it will be the
only device not distributing a pre-recorded tape but the real
national broadcast program in direct, in the time where they
To this point of our
description of the device, it proves useful to specify that,
in the apartment: the totality of the video recorders functions
simultaneously. The content of every tape takes its real dimension
only in the relation that it maintains with the one of the
other tapes. The device must be feared like a spatial-temporal
totality inside which the combinative of the information organizes
itself and disorganize itself according to the visitor's displacement
in the apartment. It is not the "portrait" of each of the
members of this fictional family that must keep our attention
but the relational system that links the one to the other
in the domestic space.
name: Frank Video.
age: 39 years
Profession: used in
a cabinet of insurance.
Frank Video is fascinated
of soccer as viewer. He drinks Wickuler beer. He reads the
Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper. He votes regularly S.P.D. He smokes
the cigar in the great opportunities. He possesses a yellow
Opel Rekord car since three years. He hates the Pink-Floyd
but loves the jazz New Orleans. He reads five detective novels
per year. He estimates that the young of today have too much
name: Ulla Video born
age: 37 years
Profession: mother of
of the leg with pickles. Go two times per month to the hairdresser.
She votes S.P.D. like his husband. She occupies her leisures
to the sewing. She participates regularly in the meetings
of the parents of pupils in her son's school and in her daughter's
high school. She is in bad relation with her neighbor of landing.
She esteems that her budget to manage the household is insufficient.
Only one literary passion: Pearl Buck. Fierce viewer of "Kuli"
age: 17 years
is in terminal class of secondary. She wears jeans but she
prepares herself a part of her clothes. She goes once per
week in the swimming pool. She spends her vacations with the
family on the Costa Brava. She receives 30 marks of spending
money per month. She hates to make the dish. She doesn't have
any idea well stopped on the sexuality. The family's members
blame her for occupying the bathroom for a too long time.
Her flirtation is called Dieter, he is ten nine years old
and prepare his final exam. She adores the Pink-Floyd.
name: Fabian Video
age: 5 years
Fabian decided once
for all of ever to go to the school. He wakes up the night
because he sees some monsters. He possesses a bicycle, a car
with pedals, of the roller-skates, a mechanical train and
a train made of wood. His favorite pastime: to make some grimaces
to the neighbor behind his mother's back.
CHILD Nƒ 3:
name: Christine Video
age: 3 months
Owes his existence following
a premature stop of the pill.
The notice-board to
the entry presents also a plan quoted of the apartment, drawn
by an architect, the complete text of the announcements published
in the press, and the totality of the 182 answers that these
announcements had caused.
June 25, one minute
before 6 P.M., the complete device was in place. It no without
pain because it had been necessary to battle until the last
moment to get the totality of the necessary video equipment.
Detail that has its importance: such actions don't appear
not at all in a commercial circuit susceptible to assure the
financing of it. They don't present any possibility of financial
return. They cannot exist therefore that following personal
initiatives of which the incentive (monstrously " incomprehensible
" mystery for many) founds on the indemnified taste of the
game and the propensity toward a certain type of "research".
The obtaining of the means of realization in this kind of
project, participates in the creativeness for the same reason
as the contents and the formal results proposed at the end
of race to the public. For the contemporary artists of which
the shapes of creation move away of the traditional techniques
to resort to the new media in the tentative to bind another
type of relation with the world that surrounds them, the resistance
is less often the one of the inert material that the one of
the economical and social structures to which they are confronted.
This state of fact requires other practices, today, that some
artists try to elaborate in the setting of an activity that
they defined under the "Sociological Art" name. To arrange
for a given duration of seven monitors () in Cologne, as in
Paris, without paying the amount of renting to the company
that provides them, constitutes for the artist a way of "work
of art" that not only requires a lot of perseverance and of
energy expense, but again quite a lot of invention and of
creativeness! It explains our permanent difficulty, in such
conditions of realization, to carry through our actions. Miraculously
all was ready.
The first stroke of
small bell pulls me from my waiting. I hurry on the intercom
and push on the button that commands the opening of the entry
door. I indicate briefly that it is necessary to go up to
the third floor: it is there that the Video family lives in.
I seize my equipment that I wedge it on my shoulder. I stay
myself on the landing in top of the staircase. My German friend
joins me and stands slightly back to act as interpreter in
case of need. They are two to climb with circumspection the
last walks. She is curiously brunette with hairs in cork-screw.
He is blond, pass her of two heads at least, and raise a electric
blue tie that settles on his dark costume. It is without a
doubt a couple of academics, tell I to me while adjusting
them in the eye of my Sony camera.
It is him that speaks
the first: " they come for the apartment ". I push on the
trigger of my portapak. I ask them to penetrate. I fade away
on their passage. I encourage them to advance with a gesture
of the hand remained free. They comply after having thrown
me a constrained look. Now all televisions function in the
apartment and weave a sonorous background that accredits the
idea that a whole family occupies the places. To the passage,
they throw an eye on the panel of information but without
A BIG BURST TO LAUGH:
I now precede them in
the passageway, advancing backwards to hold them in the field
of my video. We are to the entry of the first piece: the kitchen.
She directly opens up on our right. I attract their attention
on an small poster affixed against the outside of the door:
Kitchen: itís 7 P.M.,
the Video family Video is gathered around the domestic meal.
They exchange a sneaky
look and advance both in the center of the room. Put on the
floor, the television recreates the ambiance of the domestic
meal. The hands crossed behind the back, he sketches an amused
smile. The face frozen, right on her heels, she remains there,
immobile, before the fuzzy pictures that parade on the screen,
punctuated by tollings of dish. He tells me something in German
that I don't understand. I smile him on my turn whereas my
friend, who followed us, answers him with a certain readiness
that continues by a burst to laugh. The ice is broken: I invite
them to pursue the visit. We are in the passageway again.
Still on the right, the second room. We stop before the door.
The pinned display mentions this time:
Room of the parents:
it is 11 P.M. Frank and Ulla in conversation get ready to
go to bed.
On the ground, two televisions
cope themselves: Ulla, on the CVM-90, and Frank, on a thicker
model, exchanges on all sides, few friendly subjects. She
blames him violently for having his nose always dived in the
newspaper whereas she endeavors in vain to speak with him
of the future of the children. He placidly lights a cigarette.
He pulls of it the first puff. He starts coughing during two
minutes thirty-five seconds without being able to take his
breath. She takes advantage of a brief lull to throw him to
the head, aggravated,: "that he smokes much too much!" She
lights on her turn a cigarette. Now, maybe, he takes her by
the arm. It is only a hypothesis because the picture in truth
is too dark. He speaks to her with a very bass voice. The
tone wants to be conciliatory. He knows well his wife. Only
some shades run on the surface of the screen, sometimes crossed
by a clearer burst,: the border of the sheet. They fall okay:
they will place their savings while buying local actions.
We pass in the following
Room of Fabian. 5 P.M.
He plays with his small neighboring girl.
We are welcomed by strident
screams of Indian that alternate with various noises, difficult
to determine. There again, a television on the ground, in
the middle of the empty space. The screams of Indian become
more and more strident and now cover the baby's tears that
emanate the neighboring room.
The one of Christine,
mention the small poster, any hour of the day and the night.
The video cries tirelessly
while hazy shapes of layettes agitate the stuck out surface
of the receptor. Our two visitors look at themselves of a
fond and accomplice eye as in a way of anticipating communication.
She smiled for the first time with a movement of the head
that put in movement the whole building of her black ringlets
in a comic quivering. I drag them in the bathroom.
Bathroom. 8 A.M. Andréa
takes her shower before the departure for the high school.
Water flows in cascade.
Andréa sings the lips closed on a rhythm that adapts
itself to the coming and going of the soap on her body. The
bluish light of the television reflects in the mirror above
the sink. The screen lets glimpse at times, of a fleeting
way in a fog of electrons, the supposed shape of an hand,
the line of a shoulder or a hip. Real test imposed to our
"voyeurism" by an electronic picture of bad definition that
plunges the spectator (viewer) in a permanent frustration
feeling, driving him to undergo the torment until its term;
that means until the ultimate phase of the tape, in the hope
always disappointed of a clarification of the picture.
To win the even unexplored
part of the apartment we are forced to borrow the long passageway
by which we came, in opposite direction. By passing, I designate
the toilets: a small narrow room with a high window. Small
room in which we had renounced to install a too advanced technology
whose sophisticated presence would have can be interpreted,
in these places, like an offense to the good taste. Having
understood my indication with one second of delay, releasing
his companion's arm, he comes back nimbly on his steps, throwing
an inquisitive look by the half-opened door. Apparently satisfied,
he joins us in two long strides. Now I push them both toward
The unique presence
of the television seems even more incongruous in this vast
The lounge. 7.30 P.M.
The all family watch
the first TV channel.
Here the pictures are
clear, clear and legible. It is about an American cartoon:
an enormous dog, silly and malicious, weakens in all senses
on the screen, persecuted by a cat falsely innocent that he
tried vainly to neutralize. Considering the fascination of
my visitors before the spectacle, I think that they completely
forgot the object of their visit and that they are going to
settle down now there, "to consume" the program until the
word: End. It is her that will take, the first, conscience
of this situation, supporting discreetly twice on the arm
of her friend: the blond giant. I ask if the apartment agrees
them: "Yes, yes, it is well." To the long embarrassed silence
of the visit makes sudden continuation a stream of words.
Kind of social and verbal ritual to implore the anguish of
the silence. By continuous salvos, they put together a set
of questions, without waiting for the end of the answers.
I am literally flooded. My friend flies to my help and satisfies
to their curiosity point by point. In the meantime she tempted
to make be patient in the entry those that hurry for the visit
and the number that becomes constantly increasing. The tooting
of the door of the building sounds without stop. Readjusting
the video on my shoulder I go to their meeting.
THEY INVADE THE APARTMENT:
"To whom the turn?"
The visit restarts with
the following couple. Soon it will be impossible to contain
the stream of the visitors on the landing. They invade the
apartment. Take possession of the ground. Organize the systematic
combing of the video territory. Some whole hordes stroll from
one room to the other. One exchanges his impressions. One
challenges himself joyously, one guffaws noisily. One sits
down, here or there, on their heels, before the televisions
by groups of two or three. One engages the conversations with
his neighbors. The dialogues become sometimes vehement, interrupted
of enormous bursts of laughters as only some Germans know
how to express them. In less than two hours, two hundred thirty
people parade: at 27 Vorgebirgstrasses. Two hundred thirty
people who will survey in all senses the video apartment,
discovering, a little disappointed, that finally this family
doesn't have anything exceptional, so much it looks like their
Public: mixed, heterogeneous,
of which it is difficult to establish a precise deduction
permitting to make distinction between those that came to
rent an apartment, those that moved solely to attend artist's
"performance", and the curious.
WHAT IS THE SENSE OF
SUCH AN EXPERIENCE?
What are the intentions,
the goals, the teachings of it?
In what such an action,
as we have tempt to describe it in the previous lines, can
it be in line with the setting of an artistic step? Where
is the art in there? How does it can, of a justifiable way,
to be engaged, achieved and offered under the label and the
guaranty of the label art? What means, today, the word art?
The crisis of the society, its mutations, the apparition of
the new techniques, the putting in question of the visual
fact, the fading of the aesthetic dogma contribute to definitely
disqualify the traditional kinds of expression at the same
time that starts a movement of rocker toward the horizon of
liberal arts. The painting of rack doesn't stop agonizing.
The plastic arts are contested by their inability to answer
the new requirements of our time. We assist to a deep change
of the constituent nature of the art. Today, the problem for
the artist doesn't put itself anymore in terms of formal representation
(What to represent? How to represent it?), but how to encourage
the reflection, to activate the communication, to provoke
an awareness? The artistic act is conceived like a provocation
destined to create a questioning. This questioning must limit
itself to put the reason back of the art but must aim to a
critical analyze of the society by a social and sociological
In relation to the traditional
concept of art, he introduces a decisive rupture insofar as
it presents, in a way, the "social fact" like "work of art".
Its activity, don't aim anymore to the repetitive production
of objects offered the passive consumption but to the creation
of social events. The sociological art leans and eats itself
of a social reality in which it intervenes like agent of rupture.
The communication with the public doesn't exercise anymore
in an one-sided sense in terms "to know" and "to can" but
in a conversed attitude, where the segregation vanishes between
"those who know " and "the others". Finally the sociological
art aims to create fields of conscience, to demystify the
ideologies, to get changes of behaviors, that by a social
critical practice demanding new modes of action. New conception
of the art directly bound to the life, to the environment,
to the daily. In brief: the practice of the sociological art
substitutes to the affirmative and traditional aesthetic finalities
of the objectives bound to the transformation of the ideological
attitudes, in the perspective of an awareness of the social
alienation. Its methodological action applies on a followed
way to the setting up of deviance devices. Its field of action,
as well its material, are the society herself.
The reorganization in
a deviant combinatory of cultural, real elements, drags the
putting in question of their social logic. The sociological
art in this goal, practises the diversion or the parasite
of the communication circuits, introducing there foreign elements
that, disrupting their normal working, provokes the questioning
that it searches for. It applies to put in place utopian institutions
of which the juxtaposition to real institutions provokes by
this setting in parallel the parody of the seconds and their
putting in reason.
We note that the sociological
art can appear under very various shapes without privileging
a particular technique or an unique support.
This demonstration aimed
1ƒ The putting in reason
of the notion of work to the traditional sense and the one
of the cultural circuits.
The very realization
of this action already contributed to affirm, by its concrete
existence, the independence and the artist's autonomy, opposite
to the cultural system in place - system to which it is always
obliged to submit itself if it wants to communicate its work,
system by which it is necessarily forced to pass when it wants
to go to meet the public. With the setting up of such a device
as the Video family, the data of the problem are radically
modified. The artist creates his own support of creation and
his own circuit of diffusion. He manages so the proof that
the artistic act can do very well or even today without the
museum, or the gallery, or the critical thus.() It is the
example with this experience: the art now can, stupidly, pass
in transit by the classified ad and make itself transport
by the market of the real estate. The use of such channels
and their access, from the moment where it would become widespread,
puts back in very sensible question the cultural distribution
circuit under its present shape and its monopoly. It is necessary
that the artist finally becomes aware of the unlimited investigating
field that the modern world offers to his experimentation,
to his creativeness, to his imagination. It is necessary that
he takes conscience of the extraordinary diversity and wealth
of the instruments, the tools, the media, the techniques that
this world places at his disposal. It is necessary that he
watches around him. It is necessary that he shakes the alienation
in which a prudent stopping behind anachronistic techniques
and a conception delayed of the art maintain him. It is finally
necessary that he escapes the ascendancy, to the codes of
the official circuits of the art that are already definitely
condemned. Between the submissiveness to the past and the
opening on the unknown, he must choose without hesitating
the unknown. It is to this title, and to this title only,
that he will deserve the name of creator. The Video family
enrolls as a tentative of new artistic action, committed in
this sense. No without a mischievous provocation, it announced
the color of it in the invitation addressed to the museums,
to the galleries, to the institutions cultural of all ways,
specifying: today the art makes without you!
One of the goals of
this experience was therefore the convenient demonstration
having the tendency to prove, by a concrete example, that
the artistic action, the art, can escape the hardening tutelage
of the circuits and the official places of the culture. That
the art can escape the art. That the art can materialize itself
in a tangible and real way in social relations. An "living
art" in direct hold with life. An art put in work with the
help of different modes permitting to bite on a different
public, passing by different channels. An art, finally, that
proposes the dialogue.
2ƒ Market of the real
estate and setting in presence of different publics.
Through the pretext
of the art, our second objective consisted in creating an
event support of a reflection. Reflection on the market of
the real estate with the involvement of even those that are
confronted to it: critical reflection, that took in charges
the sociological data of this market, in this month of June
1976, in a German city of first importance. In the game instituted
by the Video family, there is the deliberated will to maintain
always a certain ambiguousness . In this composite "action",
the idea of art is destined to disrupt the one of real estate,
and the idea of real estate the one of the art. Our intention
aimed to transform a desolate apartment in a place of debate
and exchanges. For this, to encourage the meeting of a certain
number of people concerned by the problem, first, because
they shared all in common the preoccupation to accommodate
themselves! Therefore to transform, it was so ever possible,
the place of this apartment to rent, in forum, on the relative
problems of the habitat! It is known well that the candidates
to the renting of an apartment are always negotiated separately
by the agencies. In any case they cannot ever practice an
exchange of information. The goal of the agencies is clear:
it is about partitioning rigorously information so that the
"business" don't escape them. It is about, also, not to encourage
the constitution of a common forehead of the "consumers":
Upsetting the rules
of the usual social and professional game, it was interesting
to put these "consumers" together, and to study the developments
that would occur. Thereon, it was just as interesting to make
unload some "consumers" of art and to observe what would happen
then. Very quickly the visitors in quest of an apartment to
rent identified themselves two by two, then in group: they
started discussing. Of course, the presentation of the apartment
came out of the ordinary with these devices of television,
but actually the Video family, in herself, interested them
rather few. Preoccupied by their specific problem of lodging,
it is around it that organized themselves the information,
that exchanged the ideas. Animate conversations where each,
to his manner, restarted the lawsuit of all owners and realtors...
Finally, each delighted to have an audience before which to
express his problems to relieve themselves of it. Each, in
a spontaneous impetus, delivering to the aid the fruit of
his own experience, his disappointments, his hopes. Immediately
expressing his opinion, communicating some useful addresses,
to the back of an envelope or the reverse of a newspaper.
One got in guard, mutually, against certain practices of which
one had been the "victim" from doubtful offices. Coincidence:
suddenly we met with an explosion of joy, to have visited
the same apartment on two days of interval! Confrontation
of the points of view. Assessment of the advantages and inconveniences.
But always the same conclusion: many too dear! Little by little
the conversation became more general. The circle enlarged
to new newcomers. Ulla Video shouting too strong on her monitor
in the neighboring room, one asked to me if it was possible
to reduce the power of the receptor. One didn't hear other
speaking ! The visitors who disembarked came gather immediately
to the discussion. Some artists (easily identifiable by their
sartorial holding) had succeeded to infiltrate until the first
rank. Some "notables" of the art that I recognized revolved
to the periphery, a amused smile to the lips, in prudent observers.
(Wulf Herzogenrath, François Friedrich, Jürgen
What do you of art?
thrown someone. How are you lodged? Dialogue of deaf. However
little by little some exchanges crossed between the art and
the real estate settled over the heads. During that time,
in the bottom of the apartment, the Video family, by interposed
electronics, continued to unwind her litany, offering the
supreme expression of a perfects and absurd happiness.
3ƒ Stroke of spotlight
on the domestic institution.
Finally, what this action
proposed was a look on the domestic institution itself: how
the nuclear cell, basis of our society, folded on the territory
of the apartment, resists or evolves according to the pressure
of the outside world. How she introduced within, horse of
Troy of the modern times, the object television that is going
to pour on it the devastating stream of the distresses that
shakes the world. How the massacres of all kinds, the accidents,
the wars, the disasters, of the whole earth, are going to
come to spill at mealtimes on the domestic table. How finally,
bombarded by this multitude of information, she is going to
digest them and, while digesting them, to change. Critical
look suggested and sustained by the put in place technical
device, in a parodical, computerized, dehumanized production.
To each family's member substitutes itself to his double:
his technological duplicate. The load of personalization that
is affected to the object television gets used to the detriment
to the individual that it represents. Who is thus, after transfer,
dispossessed of a part of himself to the profit of the "machine".
WE EXCHANGED GRANDFATHER
AGAINST THE TELEVISION.
By a way of troubling
mimetism, even though we are not always conscious of it, we
end up all having a "head of television", what makes tell
to the other that we kept " family's look ". But the family
of yesterday does look like the family of today? It is there
that intervenes our questioning, it is there that our question
is put in shape, not under the classic shape of a question:
but in a device of questioning that I call: Video family.
It is true that the
family lost her traditional substance and that she is today,
dispossessed every day more of her functions, that are taken
in charge by the social organisms. The polls give optimistic
results however: the family changes under the strokes but
she resists valiantly! She only changes her furnitures: exchanging
grandfather against the television. Yesterday she leaned on
a patriarchal organization. She organized herself, and tightened
herself, to the neck-and-neck, around the ancestor to benefit
from his experience. Today grandfather is sent early to the
asylum to be replaced advantageously by the electronic piece
of furniture. Customs change and the family also.
TO BECOME "SUBJECTS-ACTORS":
An action as the one
that we tempted with the Video family in Cologne endeavors
to put in evidence and in relation the processes of transformation
of our society: technical transformations, economic transformations,
transformations of the life styles, transformations of the
practices, customs, the desires, the values, etc. Transformation
of the art.
It proposes us to become
"subjects-actors" in a society that generally relegates us
to consumer's unique statute. If the individuals manage to
represent themselves their place, to distinguish between their
own needs and those that their are imposed artificially by
the system, they will be able to intervene differently in
their work, in their leisures and to reach one life style
giving them a bigger luck of personal achievement. The types
of actions that we try to achieve, that it is the Video family,
the Biennial of the year 2000, Video third age, the White
invades the city, Archeology of the Rue Guénéguad,
put in game all kinds of process: relations between the conditions
of life, the practices and the representations, the game of
the interests and needs, the role of the symbols and the imaginary.
These actions put in evidence the conflicts between codified
society and lived culture and, exacerbating them, proposes,
to the individual as to the group, to refuse the simple reproduction
of existing reports. This shape of art, (the sociological
art), is located to the level of the daily life, to the level
of lived in which it plunges its roots. Its land of action
and virtualisation is sometimes the museum, the cultural place,
but more often again the street, the workplace, or... an apartment
in renting! This shape of art (even though it is challenged
as such) wants to finish with the rigid distinctions between
creators and spectators. It invites to the hold in charge,
by the concerned persons themselves, of the tools of creation
and facilities in order to permit a direct expression in all
domains of existence. There are probably multiple ways to
approach the experience of the Video family, to discern it,
to judge it. But donít mistake: in spite of the appearances,
it is not only a funny and curious provocation game due to
the "sophisticated" caprice of an "artist". The Video family
wishes to be a way of experimental operative model for the
art of tomorrow but also for something else. This other thing
remains to define, certainly. This provocation clears on a
reflection that tempts to make understand to each of us the
net of relations in which all social individual is enclosed,
closely retained. It is from this point of conscience that
we will be able to escape by the stitches of the net...