Installation / Single channel video / Headphones / HD / Stereo / 24’20 / Photograph 17cm x 13cm Diasec / 2015
Benedikt Greiner : Actor
At the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Swiss Air Force “Air 14”, I staged an interview with one of the employees of Pilatus Aircraft. Upon a common agreement, he exposed some of his personal positions to me. Pilatus Aircraft is a company that may be qualified as a symbol of Swiss politics with regard to war material exports and applications – politics that have been regularly criticized, both nationally and internationally, since the 1970’s.
Shortly after the interview, which was recorded on video, and which quite unsurprisingly didn’t yield any new information whatsoever on the company’s export strategy, I received a text message from my interview partner at Pilatus:
“Hello Mrs Loeffel. I kindly ask you to keep any recording you made of me during the interview confidential and I trust in your discretion. Best regards.”
That text message is the point of departure for the realization of “Fassung #1”.
After having consulted with several business journalists in Switzerland, it could be supposed that such mandate to remain silent, such censorship, may not merely be a coincidence. Rather, it could be considered as a partially internalised method in the world of business, especially targeting critical journalists (often based on and elaborated in conjunction with the Swiss Federal Unfair Competition Law/ UWG, UCA).
I then transposed this filmed interview in a theater, on an empty stage, in the absence of an audience, a stage also being a space of rhetorics. There is an actor on the stage, he sits in front of a screen and watches the original interview. He attempts to imitate the interviewee as faithfully as possible. His task is to translate the Pilatus employee’s words from Swiss German into high German and to reproduce his gestures and body language – he has to be that person. This process of direct duplication induces various emotions in the actor, stress as well as disruptive moments where we can see and hear the failure of language and translation.
This imitation technique, one of the most basic methods in drama, allows for the observation of language use through copying and simulating. Thanks to the translation and transfer of the recorded interview into another linguistic space, we are able to build up some distance to the actual content, which in turn possibly allows for a questioning of the circumstances which language and power relations evolve in.
The video is being presented on a screen equipped with headphones. A photograph of the text message hangs beside the screen.
Filmed at the Stadttheater in Bern, Vidmarhalle.
With the support of Pro Helvetia und Konzert Theater Bern.