Text by Wim Peeters
Water, Box, Handkerchief, Dress/Undress and Force are five productions from 2003 which together with The Enigmatic Visitor complete the series In a Not So Distant Future. The semi-documentary style of 15.000.000 Parachutes and The Persecution of the White Car are stripped of their referential functions and traded in for autonomous video images edited into loops. The five tableaux confront us with sometimes absurd, but mainly existential themes. We find ourselves back in Patagonia where Paralelo 46° had already been featured earlier on, but in contrast to the futuristic archaeology that Paralelo 46° proposed as a dystopic nod to the present, in Water, Box, Handkerchief, Dress/Undress and Force the contextual space dissolves in a vacuum. We encounter two people with only a couple of props (a box, a handkerchief and sundry garments) fighting against an invisible factor: the wind. With the purified form, Diaz Morales achieves the concentrated eloquence and visual power of the Japanese Haiku: a woman is crying, standing in the midst of an arid steppe landscape, a man beside her. The wind wails unstoppably. To dry the woman’s tears, the man gets out a handkerchief but a powerful gust of wind tears it from his fingers, leaving it fluttering in a bush further away. The man frees the handkerchief but pricks his finger on a thorn and winds the handkerchief around his finger to stem the blood. The tears and the wound, the blood and the tears and the wind and the thorns overlap in a ceaseless concentration of meanings (Handkerchief, 2003). Apart from the formal differences, the series of 5 films expands on Diaz Morales’ earlier productions and acts as a degré zéro of human existence. The threat that in previous films was inextricably bound up with a socio-cultural background is constricted to an elementary play of forces in an undefined landscape. From now on we must imagine a world without familiar landmarks. Man as the god of prosthesis in Sigmund Freud’s “Civilisation and its Discontents” (1930) is, even without his mechanical aids, no longer the wellhead of an oceanic feeling. All he can do is attempt to survive his own historical condition. For the exhibition the five scenes are complemented by The Enigmatic Visitor, a panoramic recording of a dialogue between a soldier and a scientist - for the dialogue, Diaz Morales again returns to the work of Roberto Arlt. The two strike up a conversation about chemical gases in an abandoned radio station. In the war the soldier had felt the impact of the gas and the scientist wants to build a chemical plant for large-scale gas production. Now and then the image is being interrupted. A huge magnetic field in the radio station cellar sucked down pixels during filming and the optical disruptions seem to prelude the disintegration of the image or our eyesight.