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saskia olde wolbers - pseudologica fantastica 2002

A book that I bought from the discarded stack of the library. Someone had torn out several pages and I got it for a euro.


More conceptual stuff on my weblog:


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Saskia Olde Wolbers' videos are based on

real-life stories. Short newspaper articles often

rouse her curiosity about the personal dramas

behind them. One such story inspired her to make

a piece about a woman who had octuplets, but

none survived. Olde Wolbers used an article

about a dam built in China that forced two million

people to move, as the basis of Kilowatt Dynasty

(2000), a film telling a fictional science fiction

story about people living in what has become an

underwater city.

The film that Olde Wolbers made during the

final round of the Prix de Rome is about a

Frenchman who had led his family to believe for

eighteen years that he was a doctor in a hospital

in Geneva. Then the lie was uncovered and he

murdered fis family. Olde Wolbers came across

the improbable story in a newspaper, and started

fantasizing about the life the fake doctor must

have led. Did he kiss his wife goodbye in the

morning, then spend his days in cafés and petrol

stations? Did he have a mistress? Wasn't he

bored out of his mind for years? Did he have a life

at all wh en it was all a tissue of lies?

Olde Wolbers compares her films to documen-

taries. She us es a narrator to teil the stories she

writes, creating images that are atmospheric

illustrations to the voice-overs. For each film

Olde Wolbers builds models of architectural

spaces through which the camera glides,

unhampered. Kilowatt Dynasty, for instance,

shows a futuristic underwater world. Although

the surreal visuals suggest that the film is a

digital animation, everything was created by

hand, the old-fashioned way.

Her latest film is set in the endless corridors,

operating theatres and intensive care ward of a

hospital. The sterile, bare spaces are built to

scale and are simply white oil paint thickly

stretched over wire frameworks. Olde Wolbers

filmed the scenes in an aquarium built specially

in her studio - the spaces seem fluid, the material

of the walls dissolve, intensifying the metaphor of

the doctor's dense fabric of lies gradually

disintegrating. "The film is about the moment

when you realize that nothing you've been told is

true", says OldeWolbers. "The hospital is a sort

of mental space: it stands for the liar's imaginary

realm. The man doesn't believe he is Iying. He'd

probably even pass a lie detector test. He trans-

formed his own life into fiction, like an author

writing a nevel."

The artist spends considerable time preparing

her films, talking to people who have actually

been in similar situations, and researching

psychological syndromes. Olde Wolbers

translates her characters into video images

tinged with a sad dreaminess that is close to

hallucinogenic. "The video is a sort of opticallie

detector", explains Olde Wolbers. "At the end of

the film, the doctor's fantasy world me lts away.

It has no substance. That's when he understands

what reality really is."

The jury finds that Saskia Olde Wolbers' new film

a logical progression of her familiar working

meibod. She has perfecied her iechnique to ereede

powertut images. However, the jury is less

enthusiastic about the images' literal illustration of

the story. Next to her older work, this piece is less

imaginatively potent [or being less abstract.

The linear narrative leaves litlle Ieit to the viewer's

imagination. Saskia Olde Wolbers is awarded a

basic prize of [ive thousand euros.


Pseudologica Fantastica, 2002

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Taken on December 5, 2009