Wendelien van Oldenborgh, It's full of holes, It's full of Holes, 1999

It’s Full of Holes, It’s Full of Holes, 1999

“Your body is a boat to lay aside when you reach the far shore.
Or sell it if you can find a fool, it´s full of holes, it´s full of holes.”
William Burroughs, The Western Land

The scene represented in the double slide projection deals with the crucial moment in which a specific kind of contact between individuals is established, within which a notion of physical intimacy transgresses the conventions defined for regular public spaces and social spheres, thus hinting to the possibility of a certain loss of control.
A female police officer searches the bodies of women at the entrance to a stadium where a football match will soon take place. The stadium represents a contemporary place of ritual violence and the loss of control. The female police officer incorporates the law, thus indicating the limits of acceptable behavior. She symbolizes the line one should under no circumstance cross. Though the way she touches the women’ s bodies, most intimately, sexually charged, lingering between transgression, aggression and embrace, suggests she herself will potentially ignore the demarcations and borders of convention. Her slight and professional movements verge at the erotic, the framing of the camera sometimes suggests a forced intimacy between police officer and the women under investigation. There is only a marginal hint as to where this takes place, a small indication of the location in the form of a small sign attached to the metal chain that separates the line of waiting women from the surroundings. The sign says: Nord Esplanade. It remains unclear where this Nord Esplanadeis located, and it does not matter since it could be anywhere, or even the title of a follow up to this work.

The scene was shot on super-8 film of which single frames have been transferred to slide and enlarged. They pass by the eye of the spectator in slow motion, a procession of frames dissolving in the semi darkness of space, always leaving behind a trace, a memory of their predecessors. The silent black and white images sometimes recall the early days of cinema. We become witnesses to a soundless carnival being recorded through van Oldenborgh’s subjective perspective. She patiently and without commentary watches what is going on. In fact, we do not need neither subtitles nor a voice over: since we are able to quickly decode the language of social hierarchy, of the erotic, of power and control all condensed within a brief moment, an evanescent flickering image as if someone’s memory had been clandestinely recorded. Fragmentation and isolation of singular entities, of ‘reality frames’, the line of separation between society and its laws are the topics of van Oldenborgh’s work. She allows us to glimpse a moment of the symbolic violence pertaining to contemporary rites and rituals. Over time, through repetition and isolation, the small events the artist records become larger than life: one could call them “ritual molecules” unveiling the structure of our minds as well as collective subconscious. ” It is a research on the secret ties and connections that are dictated by shame and seduction – the rules that reason does not know of – between body and language, between the physical and the mental. It is precisely through such gaps, actual “holes” within our conception and knowledge of the world, that the artist traces the mechanisms of unconscious projections that our habitual fears bring into play.” [2]

These installations raise issues of potentially different kinds of models of the observer always connected to shifting vantagepoints in a world of flows, charts and nets. The artists and their works figure as interfaces between the subjective and objective, between observer and observed, thus focusing on the impact of performative, transgressive acts as a potential third point, as either staged or perceived within the framework of art practice. They employ the principle of montage in order to recombine synthetic fragments of the real, the recollected, and the technological. Farocki replaces the observer with the seemingly ‘objective’ gaze of surveillance cameras that just record that what happens with the notorious lethal innocence technology only can claim. Metzel touches on issues of a gesture in relation to a society’s capability, the necessity of remembering. Van Oldenburgh’s work employs the notion of a radically subjective artist’s perspective located within a public spectacle of control and transgression. All works frame events that oscillate between the archaic and the mundane, metaphors rendering visible the violence of institutional constraints imposed onto the subject through real and virtual architectures as well.
How surveillance and spectacle relate to each other is being explored within this specific configuration of works. Architectures both real and virtual are introduced and investigated: as means of control and constraint, thus exemplifying what Foucault has described as the process of transformation from a society of discipline to a society of control. The narrative these works constitute in relation to one another can be read more in spatial terms, as opposed to the indexical arrangement of materials on the fourth floor. It is not only telling of architecture and subject, but touching on the notion of the meaning of entrances, walls and interiors, gaps and holes, that what elapses in the fabric of social contracts between individuals and the state’s institutions. The act of performance constitutes a pivotal moment defining the relation between observer, spectacle and institutions. It can be read as a closure, a resolution to the unresolved, but at the same time, it depends on who defines what isthe performance, what isthe spectacle.
The body politics of a society understood as the people of a nation, or the nation itself considered as political entity with the state as control factor, is framed in each work within a singular, silent, transient gesture of either an apparatus or that which adverses it. Strategies bordering on the ritual, exercises completed under constraint, rendering clearly the borders within and outside of architectural representation of power: the stadium, the prison, the museum. Each work brings to the fore these issues of body politics understood as a fundamental, constituting moment of a society’s construction.
The ‘writing on the wall’ is a foreboding hint, spell, act of recollection and a fading memory. It speaks of omissions, of sudden disappearances, of the subjects of a society and their transgressive practices, the violence of desires and the temptation of forms.
Text, Translations: Constanze Ruhm

[1] “Then I was writing this word – a completely spontaneous moment, a synthetic fragment, since the letters are not made from bronze…” (Interview Olaf Metzel with Ursula Frohne, 1985)
[2] From a text by Thomas Kocek, 1999.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh, It's full of holes, It's full of Holes, 1999
It's Full of holes, It's Full of Holes, slideinstallation, 1999
Wendelien van Oldenborgh, It's full of holes, It's full of Holes, 1999
It's Full of Holes, It's Full of Holes,slideinstallation,1999