Reflection on a studio visit, attempting to explore the distance between visitor and host.
The Visit (Het Bezoek) (artist book). Available on www.frommetoyou.be
Publication — Concept & design: Maud Vande Veire — Film: Maud Vande Veire & Emmanuel Depoorter / Dimensions: 23 x 14cm / Pages: 18 / Print: offset, digital printing / Publisher: Other Publications (From Me To You) / First edition: 100 / Year: 2013 / ISBN: 978-94-91243-02-8
It’s not my first time to visit a fellow artist in his studio, but coming here to test a camera and microphone turns this visit into a totally different experience. I search for the right buttons and lens rings, and try to balance the heavy weight on my shoulder, while my partner talks to our host. They are totally confused as to whether I am struggling with the technical aspects of the machine on my shoulder, or whether I am recording. Afterwards it turns out it was also not clear to me, considering how many shots captured only the studio floor.
The camera not only marks the visit in a physical and a practical way; stretching itself in front of my body and face, drawing all my energy and attention, it seems to enlarge what happens in and around me. This heavy eye on my shoulder gives me the feeling of watching together. It is amplifying my gaze. The viewfinder acts as a blinker providing a framed (but adaptable) view, sucking me in and dragging me out of the situation at the same time. Things otherwise seemingly trivial — the studio, my host, the talking, the interactions, the silences — all become very explicit.
I notice the tables, the machines, the stove, the works, the light and of course the chicken that spontaneously entered with us. I am mainly aware of the chicken. First because of the offbeat situation, secondly because I’m fond of animals and lastly because I’m frightened when they come too close. I immediately see the potential of the chicken as a visual leitmotiv for my film. It has the privileged position of being simultaneously in the middle and at the margin of the event.
Other things, different places, come to the foreground. Places behind and between. Between words, behind gestures. Between my host and me. As evident as things first seemed, just as evident was the reality behind them. But as I film, the characters change, the roles shift, a new story is created and an old reality crumbles.