Inherent to the photographic discipline is the multiple, the supposition that a single photograph is one of many. This is a modern assumption attached to the invention of roll film which, since the 1880s, has enabled the capture of multuple frames in succession. A still photograph is a replica of non-static experience : what we see in the photograph is a direct contradiction to the lived event, which has movement and sound. In Spectacle + Artifice, the inclusion of Natascha Niederstrass’ dyptich Broken (2007-2008) engages this duality.

Broken comprises two four-minute videos that are played simultaneously on wall-mounted monitors. The videos, each with its own soundrack, inform and contradict the viewer’s relationship to photographic media. Niederstrass implements formalist conventions to control the performance of her subjects. The videos are shot in a monochromatic palette, framed by the monitors, presented in two parts, and repeated in an infinite loop. The figures of a woman (on the left) and a man (on the right) are captured from the shoulders down, their identities obscured by the frame. Both are attired in semi-formal dress. They are caught in an unending cycle : the woman shatters plates on a concrete floor, then sweeps the shards with her feet into a pile on which she precariously stands; the man collects the broken pieces and attempts to rebuild the plates like a jigsaw puzzle. They act against one another but their pursuits are futile. Niederstrass not only conceives and directs the performance, but participates in it both literally (the female figure) and figuratively (as the artist). The meaning of the work rests within its contradictions. It is broken both in subject and construction.

Extrait du texte de Dawn Owen issue du catalogue de l’exposition Spectacle + Artifice