single -channel video and sound, 9 min. 02 sec.
Everything in this work is designed to keep the emotional balance between the two characters. The woman, who is dying slowly, is not afraid of death, nor does she intend to live an empty, meaningless life. Being alive is not the most precious thing. The decision to self-destruct comes from the outside, as it were; “the heroine” is only allowing it to come true, making sure first that her life has lost meaning. The woman does not perform any dramatic gestures; rather, she behaves as though she wanted to test the reaction of the sitting man. She decides to pass away almost for the lack of better options; she does not want to be a bother. She tries to save her dignity - or rather maintain indifference, as if death was not a part of the equation. Her “performance” must end with death; otherwise she would be called a buffoon.
The passivity of the sitting man is one of the few authentic behaviors that can be observed within the realm of interpersonal relations. His state of being a passive spectator is sanctified here, as sexual intercourse is sanctified in porn. When the man finally gets up and walks away, he is doing that not because he was beaten (he is the “winner” here); he leaves because there is nothing left to expect in the situation he’s been put in; there is no point to hanging around any longer. Life, as always, is elsewhere. The time for risky choices has also run out, as did all feelings that used to produce moral doubt.
One could say that this scene depicts the first truly perfect crime. Nobody blames anybody. If the woman had not drowned, and there would have been a happy ending, we would have lost all motivation for creative discussion.
It also seems that in a situation such as this there is no one to be sorry for and nothing to bemoan. The choice that the woman makes is a conscious one: in her mind, death is a hundred times better than a lifetime spent nurturing uncertainty; moreover, death is a relief from dealing with many issues that people are not able to deal with anyway. Even the imperative of self-improvement recedes into the background: the dead are exempt from it, too. We decide, each on his/her own, to correct the errors on our own terms. It turns out that the most bogus statements are also the most charming ones. Going farther, one can design one’s own model of behavior – one’s own moral model in which there is a place for everything its creator wants to include – even for euthanasia, for pathology, for neurasthenia, for torment. An ordinary life, a standard procedure, a correct application of moral standards in everyday life has suddenly become an extraordinary achievement.
Infernal torment of existence, deprived of everyday risk, is the ideal ground for perversion. Boredom is our greatest ally. The entire narrative of this scene is reduced to one shot, filmed in real time, so to speak. Watching the whole spectacle is tiring for the viewer; it resembles an anatomic cross-section, a diagram, a technical drawing, and its goal is to strip the viewer of any illusions.
In such form the author’s role is virtually annihilated: the situation takes place completely anonymously – hence the setup, which suggests a pattern, a cross-section; the paradox is that this hopelessness is ringing true. Just as happens in the porn film, this situation seduces viewers into falling for uncompromising fidelity to human nature – especially in its mental / psychological aspect. There will be no more courage, no more extravagance, and no more recklessness (saving another person would be falling for these qualities). Nothing will ever be born from the pain the audience is witnessing here; the suffering is and will remain pointless, and finally we can admit that was it – or rather, that there was nothing. The spectacle, with unambiguousness and frivolity, is meant to leave its audience wanting.
The aim of this work is to provoke a kind of positive rebellion – similar to one that is experienced when watching a porn film: a negation of televised hypocrisy. The contemporary viewer wants to find the truth about someone else’s life, which – despite the fact that it is unique – it is after all also a copy of his/her own life and the lives of all other people. That is the only way to confirm our own existence and relieve our ethical concerns.
Water is a proposed pilot for a nonexistent TV series, a new mutation of “Big Brother”, extended to unknown frontiers. The time has come to introduce the pornography of death. A death is a non-event: we don’t experience it as important anymore. Only the motive matters, the ”why”, the cause that leads to the act or a lack thereof, and the moral aspect of it – the more questionable it is, the more appealing it becomes. The reward for witnessing this spectacle is an exorcism of sorts. We are going to be embarrassed by the elusive aspect of this death that has been captured on film. What’s more, everyone will be able to watch it, adults and children alike. While lovemaking and nakedness still are considered taboo in many places in the world, death is now acceptable viewing almost everywhere. This brings forth objectification of death, and its omnipresent trivialization; it has ceased to be taboo; now we can all enjoy celebrating it peacefully with our family, watching it on television.
Whatever we knew about death is no longer valid. When we lose the unique approach to death, all authenticity and seriousness of existence have been lost as well. Once transported into the domain of TV production, the tragedy of death is no longer present in our hearts or our minds; now it transpires with no emotion, no conscious thought, and no pain. It’s like the loss of faith: one who loses it does not feel the loss. Before this happens, there is a transition stage: we still believe, but we feel now that our faith has been poisoned; it is a faith that is barely credulous, a decision the world has made us make – one that lets us enjoy freedom and make choices – even in matters where making choices is a scandal. Anxiety or loss of orientation are not the point here; for the first time ever, we achieve an ethical vacuum with full awareness – which can finally be a starting point for discussing how inadequate the intellect or the moral aspect proves to be.
As the desire for the peaceful union of all humanity in the name of love and respect for all cultures and cults is, paradoxically, falling further away from inclusivity, as a result of our mediated, sentimental faith, the personal aspect of spiritual life becomes more important, and it is not subject to any external dictates of modernity. This kind of spirituality is mindful of the lessons of modernity – after all, our right to an autonomous, free opinion and belief can’t be taken away now. Fear of God is being annihilated in the tumult of modern liberty – the liberty we are unable to give up, even if we wanted to. What we have all been waiting for finally happened: the resistance of myth has been crashed. The good news is, apathy is contagious. No madness or perversity can be found in what is considered the norm. A sense of helplessness, an ability to pause and reflect – all are gone; finally, the reality pulls off the mask of vulgarity, and it avoids any provocation. There is no way back from this land of self-possession; there is no end to the oppressive freedom.