Mistaken Memories of the Ancient Rome, Studio Mic, Rome, 2007
Rome, the eternal city, is filled with age-old history. In many places, the time has almost stopped after decay and archaeological excavations. It is only the air pollution and other forms of erosion – such as tourism – that wear out and decompose the ruins. The city lives on its historical images. However, the present everyday life of Rome is a strong contrast to this archaeological silence. It is a chaotic city. A quiet and solitary place is almost impossible to find.
The exhibition included a video which was shot from the same gallery. For an hour, I recorded the view through the gallery door, a narrow street with a boarded wall on the opposite side. The neighbouring building was being renovated. While editing, I picked from this one-hour videotape every passer-by, cyclists, cars, vespas, a Dominican monk, dogs and an alley cat, and slow-motioned their movements just so that they looked just about unnatural, like in a silent movie.
The video was shown in a monitor placed on gallery floor, exactly on the same spot where I shot it. This way, the video image created a contradiction to the here-and-now events behind the gallery door, flowing past it. Outside, the time passed faster.
This miniature-like, ultra-local site-specific video piece works on the terms of space, time and site, and really only just this particular space, only just for the time of this exhibition and only just this site, that is, Rome. It could not have been, and still cannot, be displayed anywhere else, but the same idea can be transferred anywhere, and its multiple layers can be repeated, for example, by writing, and replicated through images. However, the original holistic experience, which includes the gallery space with sounds and events outside the gallery door, cannot be repeated. When the renovation in the neighbouring house is completed and the boards are taken out, the possibility to re-display my work is gone forever. The boarded wall on my video is like the famous “fourth Beatle”: after his death, the band could no longer exist. Lennon and the video piece with the boarded wall now belong to historical spectacles, as smaller or larger gestures, just like Rome in its splendour and the slowness of its time, its stagnation.
The work was shown in the Studio Mic -gallery in the historic centre of Rome and the photographs also in the Hurmio-Fokus exhibition at Finnish National Gallery in 2009-2010, and displayed in the summer of 2010 at the Tikanoja Art Museum in Vaasa.