4’45, 2008, Video HD, Courtesy of the artist
A conversation with Maya
What about A-phan-ousia? Is it an invented concept? Yes, a-phan-ousia is an invented Greek word. It means: a – prefix negative: don’t, without. pha (n) – talk (to appear, show) ousia – essence, substance. pha means talk and phan means to appear, to show. Juxtaposed ideas produce a third one (as Eisenstein montage or the Japanese ideograms) and keep open the meanings, I mean, they don’t define or determine a close meaning. There is one poem on the London underground that always drew my attention, I don’t know in which station is displayed, but it goes like this: Stations – As he travels home on the Northern Line he is reviewing his marriage. When he used to tell her that he loved her it was certainly true; but now the words -though they still fulfill a useful and ceremonial purpose – have lost some of their resonance as in Barons Court or St John’s Wood or the beautiful Shepherd’s Bush. (Connie Bensley). It is a reminder that any expression of feelings can turn as banal as naming a popular tube station. How can words become suddenly devoid of emotional content and lose their resonance?
We resonate with a famous quote from a movie, but what else does it mean to us besides a cultural reference? Is it then possible that the initial meaning of extracted dialogues from different movies and their new representation evoke new images, produce a third meaning? The actress in the video seems to resist any emotional expression in her role, she flattens all the lines in an almost an impersonal enunciation. Indeed she’s hieratic in order to remove any trace that could remind of the original audio: once the audio is free from its emotional weight, she can be perceived as the owner – the embodiment- of different voices. It feels that a character is never as fixed as we conventionally assume and that her/his identity is in flux. Is it possible to dissolve the limits that outline a character, turning them shapeless and indistinguishable but without loosing his/her unitarian identity? Yes. No. Is silence a way to resist the objectifying power of language? Silence can structure the language like an empty space that around a sculpture defines it. This video is also about the terror of being determined -as you said, objectified- by language, but not to revoke the language, but to grasp it desperately.