What was the inspiration for this exhibition?
I became interested in the film The Road, which made use of sites of disaster for set design, because without human suffering this film could not have been made within the production model that they employed. They studied the war in Kosovo for one scene, homeless peoples’ attire for wardrobe, and they shot in the wreckage of post-Katrina New Orleans and post-industrial Pittsburgh for their dystopic fantasy film. For me it was interesting that the sites that they chose to shoot inadvertently mapped out how global capitalism operates.
I wanted to engage with these politically-charged sites that they shot. If their film made use of the sites to further their story I wanted to reverse this and use their story to further an examination of the sites. I felt I had to enter into the way they made their film, but with a very different orientation. I saw the film I would make as an experiment and by mimicking their shots I had let go of creative control. Once I had the basic concept and parameters, the film made itself. I was not trying to match the content of the film, but rather the geography so that my camera was placed where The Road had placed theirs.
The sculpture is of the basic structure of a section of a once Katrina-flooded, now abandoned movie theatre at the heart of a major corruption scandal located in New Orleans East. The sculpture is not meant to be seen as supplementary to the film, but rather an entity in its own right. Much like all the other sites in the film its identity is continually recontextualized. It is caught between history, memorial, controversy, and an image (both in The Road and then again in Shooting The Road).
Much like with the film, I wanted to explore the site to engage with it and open up questions around the larger implications of what this liminal space might reveal. Similar to my filmmaking (employing Brechtian techniques of distanciation) the structure does not attempt to provide the viewer with resolution or gratification in an escapist manner but rather critically explore the conflicted meaning of the site.
Once again, it is about re-contextualizing. I followed similar parameters as I did with the film, constructing the theater by using pretty exact measurements. And within this replica I incorporated some subtle components of the authentic (artifacts from the theatre), including the screen, a few tiles, and one broken sheet of plexiglass. The impetus behind this was to further question and challenge the conflicted identity of the site, while simultaneously furthering the potential meaning that could be drawn from the site.