newsletter N° 64     13.12.2005

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PLAY_gallery for still and motion pictures is proud to announce that
Frédéric Moser and Philippe Schwinger will be taking part (along with Sylvie Fleury, Fabrice Gygi, Shahryar Nashat and Ugo Rondinone) to the exhibition "Talking about the Real World / Contemporary Swiss Art" at the Chiba City Museum of Art (Japan)

17 Dec. 2005 - 26 Feb. 2006.

They will present "Internment Area" (2002).

The installation Internment Area (2002) also separates the play from the stage. It examines staging as a means of psychotherapy. In the projected film sequence, a 'Therapist' tries to make a youth, Guillaume, recreate typical and problematic situations from his own life on stage in order to resolve conflicts with himself and his surroundings. Guillaume is supported by various characters that embody people from his life or even himself (auxiliary egos) according to his instructions. Internment Area offers insight into the therapeutic methods of Jacob L. Moreno, who recognized the healing potential of his patient's play-acting. They were meant to act their way out of their own dilemmas, to breakout of the routine of ingrained patterns of behavior and thought and, through theatre, experience possible new behaviors. The film by Moser / Schwinger tells the story of a therapy session that is not a one-to-one historical account but that certainly could be, when compared to the records of actual therapeutic sessions. As the sequence unfolds, an image of a boy emerges who lacks family support and has been thrown back on himself. He is forced to seek escape in a fantasized reality that is tailored entirely to his immediate needs so that the importance of his (real) environment fades into the background.

The film opens with Guillaume on stage, sitting on a mattress. We hear the 'Therapist' giving him advice from the wings on how he might develop a scene with the help of the stage. In the film, however, the location cannot immediately be identified as a stage, and Guillaume seems to be rather disinterested, so that the 'Therapist's' words appear to be directed not only at him but especially at the viewers of the film for whom the monumental stage is the dominant object in the exhibition space. The stage stands as a site outside of reality, where actions are no longer determined by conventional rules. Anything positioned on stage can become reality and new realities can be put to the test. Thus Guillaume acts out an extremely convincing dialogue with his 'Girlfriend' and gradually provides the audience with an image of his family situation, only to reveal later that both are products of his imagination and fantasy. The stage that is re-created in this installation goes back to the one Moreno used in the 1950s and 1960s. It meets all the requirements: it is immediately perceived as a theatre, the design is open and therefore open to interpretation and yet it is fully self-contained. It requires neither seating nor audience in order to perform its function. The steps all around are enough to set the stage off from its surroundings; the backdrop creates a variable space for performance and also establishes intimacy. As a theatre, it is amenable to any concept and in Guillaume's play, it first represents a dormitory and then a kitchen. In the exhibition, however, it figures prominently and exclusively as a stage: it remains empty and unused. Even when, in the film, Guillaume and his 'Mother' have their encounter in the kitchen, it is only the stage in the film that becomes the location of this emotional dialogue. Only through the play does the stage acquire meaning; it does not play a role by itself.
Moser / Schwinger's installations are neither theatre nor film nor installation. All three aspects must converge in order to generate the complex system of distinct levels of action and meaning, which also undergo constant redefinition through the changing positions of the viewers. It is an infinitely convoluted play. Its narrative plot serves as a foil against which the other levels pile up; it is also the thematic point of reference to the present day. This is overlaid with the play within the play, the subject of which is how theatre functions, and also with historicity as a device that creates perspective. In the resulting film, the two levels are analytically documented and condensed. In the gallery, an additional aspect comes into play: the sculptural installation of an element of the scenery, which allows for a further non-visual appropriation of the production. In their theatrical work. Frederic Moser and Philippe Schwinger do not target the staging of fictions or the mere representation of theatre; they are interested in decoding the potential and the processes of dramaturgy. Theatre is an especially intense means of transmitting information thanks to direct contact between audience and actors, and therefore ideally embodies the various methods of controlled communication. It is there that Moser / Schwinger produce their complex scenarios, which subvert habitual modes of perception, expose structures and successfully combine analysis and emotionality.

Axel Lapp

"Internment Area" (2002). Set and video-projection (Dvd, 28'18''), German speaking, English subtitled, loop.
Chiba City Museum of Art
3-10-8, Chuo, Chuo-ku, Chiba 260-8733, JAPAN
p +81-43-221-2311, f +81-43-221-2316

PLAY_gallery for still and motion pictures
hannoversche strasse 1 d-10115 Berlin
p +49-30-2345 5753 f +49-30-2345 5754
opening hours: wed-sat 2 -7pm

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