"If this happened I would not leave"
2-channel video installation, full HD, duration 25:00 min (loop)
Twenty-five minutes exposed to one single director’s instruction: to stay in the frame, neutral facial expression – and you must not blink. Caused by the camera’s static presence, this mere technical assignment enforced a physical reaction: the participants started to cry. In a 25-minute long single shot each, actress Anna-Maria Hadorn and director/media artist Miriam Schmidtke are captured on videos that almost resemble photographs. The 2-channel video work projects the tableau vivant-like portraitures of the psychological experiment between an actress and a director on two opposing walls of a gallery space.
The presentation of this video documentation may only happen with the two channels vis-à-vis. Solely the spatial set-up enables a narration: are the two women depicted sisters or friends, rivals or confederates, and what divides or unifies them in real life? Why are they looking into each others eyes so staticly and why do they eventually start to cry?The filmic portraits suggest an emotion that never happened and thus challenges our relationship with filmic images. The situation of Anna-Maria Hadorn and Miriam Schmidtke looking into each other‘s eyes only „happens“ in the gallery. By projecting the images of two women looking at each other crying in one shared space, the work also attempts to question how fiction can be built. Their tears are not a sign of emotion, but the result of a psychological experiment – they‘re a reaction to the strict directing order to not blink and to stare into the camera for minutes. A task which gets very physical and psychologially challenging after a short time. Additionally, the set-up of "If this happened I would not leave" exposes but also nivellates the power dynamic between a director and an actress.Only due to the strictly formal direction and the spatial constellation of the video presentation a narration is generated. The meeting between the two women has never happened and the emotional moment of them looking at each other in tears is a willfully constructed semiotic fiction.But after all, the ongoing glance into another person‘s eyes indeed is forceful. It can be bonding or triggering, painful or salving, exhausting or empowering, but most notably it‘s unpredictable.
Creditsconcept and directing: Miriam Schmidtke, performers: Anna-Maria Hadorn, Miriam Schmidtke, camera/lighting: Alexander L. Schank