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Platformen, 04.03-24.04.2000 Museet for Fotokunst, Denmark



An installation of video, photography and performance.

This work explores the notion of communication, not only as a visual language, but communication as a set of relationships between art and life, war and peace, spectator and creator, memory and language.

The concept of communication; like a telephone as an instrument, which far from eliminating distance hands you over to it. Our constant attempt in all domains of society to minimize distance in pursuit of globalisation; bringing together, coming together, being together - anything that constitutes a non-distance to life, with life and for life. Anything that decries solitude, slowness and silence.

Thinking it as a long-distance phone call - trying to make sense of the other receiver's non-sense, replacing the phone with organic, singular activity - the installation is in effect a documentation of a man alone walking through Europe to Kosovo. The walk is not to make sense out of something seemingly senseless. French contemporary thinker, Jean-Luc Nancy, has already written that the Sense of the World has come to an end, 'there is a loss of meaning, a loss of sense.' What he says is that there is a loss of any transcendant meaning or teleology which would give absolute sense to sense, which is replaced by the 'absolutisation of nihilism of relative sense.'

My idiosyncratic performance during 78 days across the European landscape is an inquiry into distance - the journey itself. It is the existence of the journey, and not the essence of the destination. My position is akin to that of a passer-by constantly trying to situate himself in a moving environment. Each intervention is another fragment of the story that is being invented and a challenge to the narrative and economic structure of Western representation. A movement through images and the memory of them experienced in a non-chronological, non-linear way.

What remains after or before the 'event' are marks of human subjectivity. We are always already too late for any event, even if we might see it or even experience it. It is impossible to overcome distance by speaking, by writing or by making art. What is left are fragments; visual souvenirs captured like postcards that are too late, recorded after or before the event. Postcards that do not inform us about an essence, but a mere existence; traces of my distance; the vestige of my journey as a passage, a constant shifting space, a sporadic identity of a vagrant lifestyle where the kinetic migration becomes life (the work) itself, and the Being is that of the other exposed to itself and the other likewise.

The installation is in itself like a picture; each image and object representing both detail and wholeness, absence and presence, appearance and disappearance; its coming and going. Its fragmentation of narrative, where the narrative is the same, but each time different; 'each time with the promise to affirm in differance, yet with all the risk to threat' as philosopher, Jacques Derrida says. 'No promise without threat.' Here essence is replaced with mere existence.

Martin Toft, March 2000