A handful of volunteers sewn into a huge bag are trying escape a forest to the nearest asphalt road in one of Ľubomír Ďurček’s most complex films. Among the moving images made by a well-known representative of the (Czecho-)Slovak concept art are stills, video installations, documentaries and performances recorded on film. His 1983 work, Home (Domov) mixes features of the latter two.
Ľubomír Ďurček’s (born 1948) works can be categorized by four different approaches. This division is reflected in the structure of the retrospective exhibition of his work recently held in the Slovak National Gallery. The photographs, the installations, the collages and the videos are organized around contextual, psycho-geographical, semiotic or participatory situations. The almost 15 minute long Home, shot on 16 mm film, includes participants, putting the film into the fourth group.
Curator Mira Keratová elaborates:
„If Ďurček in his performances works with the environment and its associations, in participatory projects he creates social space. He activates spectators, stimulating them to their own, autonomous gesture in an alienated society. Devising a surprising situation that disrupts the stereotype of a passer-bye, he sends them into a more intense experience of the everyday”
Home was shot in Bratislava in a forest park called Železná studienka with the help of four enterprising men, who – accompanied by their female partners – were brought blindfolded to the location. The participants were sewn into a cube-shaped canvas measuring eight cubic meters. The bag is white on the outside and black on the inside. They had to keep the cube moving forward in the dark forest, referencing Song I of Inferno from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Home is one of Ďurček’s more film-like works. While the moving images that show some of the street performances are rather documentations – in Home Ďurček utilized the possibilities of film language and created a bridge between different art forms.
The volunteers were also given an analog camera and a dictaphone to be able to record what was happening inside the cube. While the camera only allowed them to take stills, with the dictaphone they recorded the sound from the beginning till the end. In the film the images alternate between the black and white footage showing the movement from the outside and the color snapshots. The rhythm of the variation depends on the click of the camera’s shutter button. So every time the people inside spontaneously released the button, for a few seconds we see a color still which was taken in that exact moment. The snapshots are also accompanied by the voice recording, while the exterior shots are silent.
The performance lasted for twenty minutes as this was the time the participants needed to get from the woods to the nearest asphalt road. The photos at the end of the movie illustrate the events after the release: the gathering, the talk and the trip back to the city. The last photographs show the volunteers dispersing at Slovak National Uprising square (Námestie Slovenského národného povstania)
Ďurček’s film is both surreal and concrete; comical and dramatic. It is at once about togetherness and loneliness, community and alienation. This ambivalence is emphasized by the technical dichotomy: black and white and color images, silent captures and sound footage, stills and moving images. Ďurček keeps his distance from any neatly articulated conclusion; as in many of his works, Home „only” tries to demonstrate the possibilities.
Written by: Dorottya Szalay
To watch the film click on the picture.