The real is separated from the irreal only by a thin, ever less tangible thread that delineates the two realms, marking Homi K. Bhabha’s “interstitial transition“ that brings forth identity, the cultural self-image as an effect of difference. The imaginary and the real, media and their contents become blurred, the reality principle being subject to processes of fictionalization and medialization. This is also true of Norman Klein’s ’docufable’ which provides the narrative for Dorit Margreiter’s filmic installation titled “Aporia“.
The visitor to the exhibition finds him/herself in a stage-like cartography whose coordinates are defined by the “set pieces of a possible exhibition“ and the “Aporia“ installation. This virtual setting is governed by a female voice off, which seems to be speaking on behalf of the author. An acousmatic voice in Michel Chion’s sense, it eludes every incarnation as opposed to visual identification, drifting – without a place where it could find its moorings. It is in this sense that the acoustically reinforced soundtrack in the space can be experienced intensively as an extension of the body which spreads in a way resembling “appropriation of land“. The perception of the onlooker is again and again forced to adapt to the amplification of the acoustic stimuli and to adjust them in relation to the objects. In a filmic commentary projected onto the wall, resembling the view from a window, Margreiter allows a leisurely flow of images consisting of documentary shots of copies of urban icons, such as The Venetian or Luxor in Las Vegas, interspersed by short film sequences of a fictive movie studio and several minutes of black images.
On an intersecting line between fixation and movement, standstill and travel, the fictive narrative strand of the ‘docufable’ about a present-day culture in the age of its reproducibility merges with that of subjective narration, thus creating a poetic, acoustic and visual account by means of the representation of historic sites and the fictionalization of history. The six protagonists acting in the filmic sequences perform a dialogue on the gestural level of the narration which in turn constitutes a dynamic memory, identifying the latter in relation to subject, text and space as a genuinely aesthetic category, leaving it open-ended.
For the visitor the audiovisual setting staged by Margreiter becomes a space-filling play of the complicity of voice and image, of promises and references. “Everything I tell you ... will be a lie,“ as the narrator introduces her story. With these words the generated visual impressions are destroyed and thus a dialectic of vision and new invention of narratives evoked. The narrator who has seen and experienced everything, with his reconstructions and all the material of memories that can also be seen by the viewer. Yet the voice off still repeats that everything has been invented and then proceeds to begin her narrative anew, so as to prove that nothing has in fact been invented. Margreiter goes one step further and lets the soundtrack as a sort of “pornography of the voice“ as a “voice out“ to stage the expulsion of her body, to depict herself as “voice in“ in a visual doppelgaenger, so as to then detach herself again as from the bodies and mouths as a “voice through“. Detached from bodily entities in which she must become consummate, she circulates as a free object in space.
The mounted black sequences serve as metaphors of the detachment of voice from the visual. It seems as if the goal were to bind the utopian promise of narration to the iconoclastic condition of its acousmatic deprivation.
This break with traditional filmic narrative modes on the one hand, but also the connection of fiction and documentation on the other, is pervasive in Margreiter’s work and reflects her interest in incorporating and making transparent filmic processes. This is evidenced by the “set pieces of a possible exhibition“ placed in the room as well as by a black-and-white photograph which directs the staged gaze towards it.
From the deconstruction of the image to the analysis of poetic structures of language, this approach lead to a new performative quality of metaphorics which unfolds in the realm of non-mimetic gestures, emphatically pointing to the fact that the world is not the double of its fiction but it effect. Obviously The Venetian, The Grove or the many shopping malls are no longer planned, designed by architects and urban planners but by script writers from the global film industry. In the role of the extras in a powerful mise-en-scène, we find them here once again as visitors and inhabitants.
Text: Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein