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Gast Bouschet & Nadine Hilbert Collaborate in Collision Zone at La Biennale
Gast Bouschet & Nadine Hilbert, Collision Zone, 2009 (excerpt from catalogue).
© Bouschet-Hilbert 2009.

VENICE.- Gast Bouschet & Nadine Hilbert, who started collaborating in the 1990s, have since created a complex body of work based on the photographic image. Their practice has been developing into multimedia installations that seamlessly intertwine still and moving imagery. Collision Zone, their installation for the 53rd edition of the Venice Biennial, uses a string of video images recorded near the Strait of Gibraltar and on the shores of Sicily to initiate a multi-layered aesthetic and socio-political reflection.

Although geologic imagery pervades the artists’ cinematographic work, the title of their sitespecific installation reaches beyond a mere evocation of tectonics, i.e. the clash of continental plates. In the course of their research Bouschet & Hilbert have travelled to the borders of Europe, focusing on sensitive areas where the continent has become one of the best-protected territories in the world, a phenomenon commonly summed up under the catchphrase “Fortress Europe”. The coldness and cruelty of these borders, which have long since become a physical reality, was forecast as early as 1961 by the historical theorist of post-colonialism Frantz Fanon.

Collision Zone functions as a metaphor for the divide between two worlds: the African continent and the European Union. The apparent aesthetic appeal of the images and sound in Bouschet & Hilbert’s visual parable is undermined by the dark and menacing undercurrent – or “subduction”, if you will – that permeates the artists’ recent production, a series of archives of on-site image and sound recordings. Thanks to a tight editing of the documentary footage that allows the artists to construct new associations and meanings, Collision Zone extends into the distinctly political realm of human rights, asking if there is something like a universal right to immigration.

Beyond its tragic immanence, Collision Zone addresses the reign of technological mythology as famously depicted by J. G. Ballard in his seminal novel Crash! (1973). Following the British writer’s thread, Gast Bouschet & Nadine Hilbert’s films merge aspects of modernity with deeply rooted archaisms in visually challenging environments.

Venice Biennale | Gast Bouschet | Nadine Hilbert | Frantz Fanon | Strait of Gibraltar | Sicily | European Union |

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