VENICE.- Laboratory of Dilemmas is a narrative video in- stallation based on Aeschylus theatre play Iketides (Suppliant Women) and the dilemma it poses between saving the Foreigner or maintaining the safety of the Native, which attempts to expose the anguish, puzzlement, and confusion of individuals and social groups when called upon to address similar dilemmas.
Aeschyluss Iketides (Suppliant Women, 463-464 BC) is the first literary text in history that raises the issue of a persecuted group of people seeking asylum. The Suppliants have left Egypt to avoid having to marry their first cousins and arrive at Argos seeking asylum from the King of the city.
The King is then faced with a major dilemma. If he helps the foreign women, he risks inciting a war with the Egyptians, who will come to take back the Suppliants. But if he doesnt help them, he will be breaking the sacred laws of Hospitality and violating the principles of Law and Humanism, leaving the Suppliants to the mercy of their pursuers, who might well destroy them. Laboratory of Dilemmas presents the plays dilemmas through the excerpts of an unfinished documentary, about a scientific experiment.
This experiment was never completed for unknown reasons, however the excerpts from an old documentary reveal today for the first time the details of the experiment, the hopes of the Greek professor who envisioned it, and the disagreements with his co-researchers.
The project went through many stages. During the last stage, the researchers suddenly discovered in their cell culture, a group of new cells which were different from the ones being investigated. These new ones were vulnerable outside the cell culture and were showing a tension to organize with the old cells.
Should the researchers allow the two cell populations to organize themselves in the hope that, through their interaction, the new cells would be able to survive and thus give the research group the opportunity to study and possibly improve the existing culture? Or should they prevent them from organizing themselves, isolate and condemn the new cells to extinction, fearing that this union would dangerously corrupt the existing culture?
1. Upper Level
The Upper Level is a perimetric, raised corridor to which the viewer is led by a flight of stairs upon entering the pavilion. Along the bannister of the corridor there are 6 small screens showing the 6 excerpts of the found footage, each of which runs for one to two minutes, on a loop. Looking down a dark labyrinth is revealed into which the viewers will enter after first having walked through the Upper Level, ending up in a Screening room.
2. Lower level/Labyrinth
After the itinerary, the visitors descend and enter into the lower part of the installation which they previously viewed from above. In the labyrinth there are 5 audio excerpts from the documentary; according to a note by the director which will be placed on the wall, he was not allowed to film this stage of the experiment. There, with the help of built-in speakers, the visitors will be guided along the corridor, as they listen to these audio excerpts from the discussions between the researchers in the lab at the moment that they discovered the problem with the new cells.
3. The Screening Room
The end of the labyrinth leads the viewers to a small screening room. There, on a large screen, they can watch a filmed representation of the last meeting of the team of researchers, which lasts 10 minutes. The original meeting was neither filmed nor recorded, but was produced today as a reenactment with actors, based on the original directors notes. In it, the scientists and offcialrepresentativesof the laboratory discuss the possibility of the new cells being preserved into the cell culture according to the findings of the researchers and the Greek biologist heading the group. All the participants have their say, not only the ones directly involved in the actual experiment. The dilemmas are expressed in quick succession and each argument is followed by another. Everything is possible. The original end of this conversation is unknown and so the reenactment stops at the most critical moment, restarting again from the beginning. The dilemma remains open.