Hear me, Children-Yet-to-be-born, 2004

Master Betanumérique localisé au FNAC

In 2004, Sandy Amerio presented her first solo exhibition in Paris, entitled Community of Emotions. The first “chapter” was held at the Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers where the film Hear Me, Children-Yet-To-Be-Born was screened, while the installation Sorties d'Usines, Épilogue was exhibited at the Fondation Ricard. At the same time, the artist published the book Storytelling: Sensitive Index for Non-Representative Agora.
These three projects are articulated one to the other around research conducted by Sandy Amerio about storytelling, a managerial practice from the English-speaking world that consists of telling stories or tales to employees in order to generate certain kinds of behaviour and emotion in them. It is used to manage conflict, or help serious decisions to be accepted, such as the announcement of a delocalisation or redundancies.
Hear Me, Children-Yet-To-Be-Born, an experimental fiction, follows the wanderings of a man and woman who stagger under the sun of Death Valley, near Los Angeles. They wear black suits, the only visual elements that make reference to the business world. A voiceover accompanies these images, recalling that of Hollywood movies: a boss addresses his employees, seemingly to tell them about a business trip near the Dead Sea. But other stories are gradually added to this first story: that of his separation with his wife, then the biblical myth of Loth, whose wife was transformed into a salt statue for having looked back while fleeing Sodom. Finally, a short extract relates the flight of the employees from the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001.
The director's intention is to produce a sense of distanciation on the part of the viewer in terms of what is seen or heard. This distanciation initially takes place in the images, in which a number of American clichés are juxtaposed without any fictional justification (from the figure of the 'working woman' to the 'desert of perdition' found in Gus Van Sant's film Gerry). As for the discourse of the voiceover, it combines company jargon with that of a religious discourse, or of a news report. These sequences allow the spectator to put the outcome of the story into perspective: the storyteller has only been using these interwoven myths, from fiction and History, in order to better prepare the announcement of his listeners' redundancy. In this way, we understand that talking, telling stories, means diverting and hence masking reality – as the voiceover itself explains: “If you want to change your life, change your story.” Therefore this active networking of myths and imagery is intended as an “overview of the collective American subconscious” (Sandy Amerio).
In a world invaded by prefabricated representations – whether they come from Hollywood, are relayed by the media or constructed with a specific goal in mind through storytelling – Sandy Amerio provides a critical reading at the borders of sociology and ethnography. Through the constructed juxtaposition of images or stories that permeate reality, she produces a discord in Hear Me, Children-Yet-To-Be-Born that enables the spectator to distance the emotion that fictional tales usually produce, thus defusing the impact of these representations.

Louise Delbarre