Antifaschistische Aktion, 1995

PAL, sound, colour

Video occupies a particular place in the work of Thomas Hirschhorn, complementing his use of 'lay-outs', the term he employs to designate his installations and the representation systems he has created. His videos take on meaning in relation to his use of drawing or sculpture, as with 50/50 à Belleville (50/50 in Belleville, 1992), Les monsters (Monsters, 1993) or the 1995 series composed of Robert Walser Video, Antifaschistiche Aktion, I Will Win and Thank You. These four videos can be seen as a series in terms of construction and formal elements. They are all filmed with static shots in Hirschhorn's studio. The frame is conceived like that of a painting. The duration is determined by the length of a piece of rock music, somewhat like a video clip. The sound quality is poor; it has not been added during the editing but recorded live in the studio. Hirschhorn always privileges meaning over a formal quality which might embellish the reading of his works: just as he uses materials considered non noble by traditional art, he transmits the music on low-quality equipment. The artist uses his collages and drawings in the background and shows himself in protest situations: raised fist, banner, bare chested like a guerrilla. Each video may thus be read as a performance. With Antifaschistische Aktion (Anti-fascist action), the opening shot shows a kind of altar covered with a white sheet; posed on top of it are two of the artist's collages, a tape recorder and a flag on which the title of the video is written in big letters. As his arm appears at the left of the frame, he brandishes his fist to a sing by the Irish group U2,' I Need Your Love'. His arm keeps moving in tune with the saturated sound of the music. The title reminds us of the Swiss artist's social commitment, present in each of his works in order to make them serve as a means of stimulating collective awareness.

Laetitia Rouiller

Translation Miriam Rosen