A work not to forget
Jasper Rigoles IICADOM
for Young Belgian Art Prize
It starts with one work, one act, one gesture. One day in 1998, at age eighteen, Jasper Rigole bought a box of 8mm films at a flea market. It is the start of something that grew into an archive of a thousand films and some other documents. The archive has a name: IICADOM – the acronym of ‘International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People’s Memories’. Fifteen years later, it is still one single work. The little box from back then has become an archive. That’s how these things go. One defining moment is the catalyst for many moments after.
Everything is a part of the whole. Each film is like a strand of DNA. It carries with it a bunch of random traits that will determine how something will look. Every single one of the films in this archive has been made by someone. Each of the films tells a story about someone. It tells a story about the time in which they lived and worked; about their desires and their enthusiasms.
This piece is centred around a medium: 8mm film. It shows how that medium shapes the way people view things. It shows what is considered worth filming, capturing, passing on, saving. The archive itself is also a medium that shapes the viewing (and the saving, the passing on, the not forgetting). In the present day, these images from another era say a lot about new media – about the use of digital cameras by new amateur videographers, the use of the internet by new archivists. It says a lot about how we view and save things in the here and now, what we find important to record and what we do not want to forget.
That this is an archive filled with other people’s memories lends it an aura of objectivity. It makes it feel scientific. But there is always that sense of ambiguity. It is linked to the schizophrenia inherent to this work. There is always more than one person involved in everything that IICADOM collects and exhibits. You have the person who made the recording of the images and sounds. You have the people who were the subjects. You have the people for whom the images and sounds were intended. You have the person who archives it. And then you have the person who views and listens to those images and sounds. Or reads, because texts play an increasingly important role in the archive. They – voiceovers, placards, separate documents or extra projections – confirm the underlying schizophrenia in each of these pieces.
This is the case in Temps Mort, named after one of the categories of the archive (the eighth and smallest: 1,1 %). It returns – again – to where it all started: killing time. These films show what the filmmaker recorded to fill the roll of film so they could send it to the lab to get developed. They are personal images. They show the filmmaker as an enthusiast: not just for filming, but for the family, the pet, the garden, … It shows the arbitrary: anything that can be used to fill up the film roll. It shows what Georges Perec once described as the infra-ordinary: what lives underneath the ordinary. It shows what only becomes clear after a length of recording: the unexpected that hides in a moment of distraction.
To make that clear, this archivist combined three tried and true elements: images, text and sound. The projector and the turntable form a unitary piece. They unite the awkward (annotated texts on film by Roland Barthes, Jorge Luis Borges, George Perec or about Michelangelo Antonioni: it’s easier to read that in a book), the ordinary (moving images in a film: nobody is surprised to see that anymore) and the handy (sounds from the BBC archive: those are always useful).
Something similar happens in Attraction. The result is once again a metafilm, which goes back to the dawn of cinema as carnival attraction. Back then, the explanation – the text – from the operator was also just as important as the images made by his machine. It shows – by means of the subjects that look at it – the camera as an attraction. They are the kind of images that we these days only see in amateur videos.
Attraction also uses the three-part structure. Here, it manifests itself in languages, shown – again – by using an extra medium besides the film: no record player this time, but slide projectors (and again: the idea of the carrousel that refers to the carnival and to the loop that goes back to the roots of this medium’s art). Each projector has its own language. Each language symbolises a new identity. Dutch is the language of the archivist, and the most personal, while English is the language of internationalisation, of the objective, scientific and empirical, and French represents haute culture, the contemplative and philosophical. Together, they provide a schizophrenic layer: different personalities in one person. That schizophrenia is inherent to the one piece, IICADOM, that unites all the other pieces.