Dora Garcia

Film (Hotel Wolfers), 2007

Shot in 35 mm, in black-and-white, in the Hotel Wolfers built in 1929 in Brussels by the Art Nouveau architect Henry Van De Velde, Film (Hotel Wolfers) is a silent stroll through the rooms of this residence. The video images focus on details illustrating the way the place has deteriorated. The artist borrows certain conventions of the subjective camera which, using a stealthy and distracted eye, skims the dilapidated walls. Paint is peeling off, everything is falling into ruin, but, in a corridor, a work of art suddenly looms. To such images is added a voice-over which painstakingly comments not on Van De Velde’s architecture, but on the very principle of the subjective camera, used thrice in the cinema: in Samuel Beckett’s Film (1965), in Moustapha Akkad’s The Message (1976), and in John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). A camera to which each director cast a distinct role, as if incarnated by a character. In Beckett’s Film, a man is visibly tormented by a disquieting presence, that of the camera chasing him. As is noted by the voice-over written by Dora Garcia, Beckett’s film, also made in black-and-white, could well have been shot in 1929 (the year the Hotel Wolfers was built). Dora Garcia thus links the two projects through an effect of time-related expansion. The individualization of the sound and image in her video removes the sense of reality from the shots and from the voice-over, and in the final instance, entrusts the viewer with the task of re-inventing the narrative. Threatened with destruction, before being bought by the collector Herman Daled, the edifice acts like a modernist haunted house, and, in Garcia’s work, becomes the setting for a parallel between the technique of horror films and commentaries about its use.

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