“Stasis” as a pause is potentially a requirement for reflection, a condition of vigilance, and a cognitive process of making a comprehensive meaning of reality, before taking deliberate action; but it can also mean the exact opposite, when it signifies the seemingly void period that interrupts an activity, the interval that entails relaxation, disintegration, flaccid resistance, and, ultimately, inaction.
In his video installation-lounge Maybe the sky is really green and we’re just colourblind: On Zapping, Close Encounters and the Commercial Break (2011-ongoing), Johan Grimonprez uses this phrase from the TV sitcom The Simpsons as reference, in order to unfold the history of TV commercial breaks and channel surfing, the disconnected interchange of images and sounds, the dominant, fragmented perception of reality, one that is completely manipulated and controlled, and that defines our stance and, ultimately, also the history of contemporary man. Starting with the famous 1938 Halloween episode of Orson Welles’s radio series The War of the Worlds and the mass hysteria that followed its fragmentary reception by millions of Americans, convinced, as they were, that aliens had invaded Earth, Grimonprez narrates, often with a bitter sense of humor, indicative moments of this history, using 1950s to contemporary America as his background. The narration, consisting of texts and clips from TV commercials, shows and news programs, takes the form of a video clip that presents the terrorization, misinformation, obfuscation, imposition and manipulation of contemporary American-western- history, centered, as it is, around the ideological construct of a danger emanating from space, of an alien threat that is being identified with various “others”, from the Communists of the Cold War era, to the Arabs of the post-9/11 period.
In the exhibition space of MOMus, Grimonprez reconstructs our own living room, where we watch this history of fear-induced manipulation, from the early days of television to modern social media. But more importantly, we watch ourselves watching this history, as the question at the end of Grimonprez’ story lingers before our eyes: could it be that we are the real aliens?
MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art-Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and State Museum of Contemporary Art Collections