Philippe Parreno et Rirkrit Tiravanija

Stories are Propaganda
35mm/DVD, 8mn40

Original Soundtack of   "Stories are propaganda" a film by Philippe Parreno and Rirkrit Tiravanija, shot in 35mm in China in 2005, transferred on DVD and of a duration of 8mn40s.

This is a journey through an infinite urban landscape. A series of banners setting up fragments of a parallel world, a feeling of suburbia. A series of scenes, data, like the radiation emitted by radioactive substances measured by the Geiger counter. Information's that glows before fading away.

An inverted cinema made of scenes edited on a time protocol. A reading experience anyone can enjoy by turning the page of a magazine, hanging around or driving through a city.

Each scene refers to recent events, facts or stochastic situations. These scenes are like ghosts... They come back in different forms. It's not that they can't survive their representation; it's more that they just don't want to go away. They suffer from a lack of finality. They have not accomplished their task, they are leaving something incomplete. Must they be treated, destroyed or     incarnated?

I used to believe that the smell of freshly cut grass was a seasonal smell. Autumn was the season during which trees lose their leaves; winter came with Christmas gifts and sometimes snow. The season of freshly cut grass simply worked on a shorter cycle, more frequent than the others.

History is made of clouds of stories, stories which are told, invented, heard, and acted out. A people does not exist as a subject, it is an ensemble of billions of futile little stories which sometimes agglutinate to the point of becoming great narratives, and sometimes dissipate into vagrant elements, but which generally do stay fairly close together to form what is called the culture of a civil society.

Fireflies were starting to disappear from Europe in the 1950's.  We can associate their disappearance with that of various ideologies. When people stop believing in the same thing, fireflies disappear. Just like the creatures from Fantasia, nothingness conquered them.

Why did I think that melancholy was somehow an appropriate feeling? I mean appropriate in a way that some tools are more appropriate than others when you have to find a solution to a problem. Film Noir is somehow relevant. You know this typical film Noir that opens with a long scene, no dialogue, where the villain played by Alain Delon lies on his bed endlessly smoking a cigarette. The characters develops a unique relationship with time and history, but that's another issue. The melancholic is a peculiar person who has an object of desire but lost the desire itself. That is to say, he lost that which makes him desire the desired object: the object-cause-of-your-desire, which is never the desired object.

Growing up in Grenoble in the 70's really should have prevented me from becoming a visual artist. The coolest thing to do was make movies or work for any of the cool non-governmental organizations. With a working class background, I was lucky to have hippy, radical, leftist, Maoist, Trotskyite teachers who I enjoyed being with until they became moralist and started wagging their index fingers at me.

The point is that we have a dark fascination for testing the limits of any given system, even while knowing that, there is often or always a breaking point. Think of voters testing the elasticity of our state democracy.

We should call the Other: "Mordor" like in The Lord of the Rings. The Other is the one who knows what you know, which is a dialectical problem that is kind-of hard to deal with.

The Other is the one who has a nice penthouse on the Death Star.

No, the idealized Other is the one who dances fascinating dances and has an ecologically sound holistic approach to reality in an ecotouristic kind of way, while features like wife beating remain out of sight.

People have   been concerned with finding their place in a physical, political or social space for a long time. For example, all of Velasquez's paintings are concerned with spatial problems. Space was like glue. Our problems are different now. They date back to 1972, the year the last few radical architecture groups disappeared and Spielberg, Lukas, Scorsese and Coppola took over Hollywood. Some could precisely date it at 3:32 pm on July 15, 1972 when the Pruit-Igo housing development was blasted in St Louis, Missouri. It had been a prize-winning example of the clean-lined, boxy, international style of architecture and what architects called a "machine for living". By 1972 it was considered a failure. People hated it and the city declared it uninhabitable. The same year Robert Venturi declared that most people's ideas were closer to Disneyland or Las Vegas than to a modern glass-box apartment.

It's hard to think about the present because the past always glows.  

In the good old days before cappuccino and sushi and ruccola went global. Well before red peppers spiced up our salads. Before adventure became a sport, and nature became a spot. In the good old days the Paris Metro smelled like cigarettes and lofts were reserved for only the New-York elite. Before seat belts beeped when they weren't fastened and spies really did come from the cold. Before cell phone conversations were banned on trains. Before googling became an aspect of human behavior. In the good old days when every second person was not a hero and every third was not a victim and every fourth was not stressed. Before we had an identity on line. Before toll-free numbers were delocalized and sent to Africa or India. Before the idea of a preemptive war existed. Before we thought there would never be any billionaires in Moscow. Before beach volleyball and snowboarding became Olympic sports. Before fusion cooking and before liquid nitrogen was used to make minute ice cream. Before you could get an espresso in Hamburg or Milwaukee. When Thai food was exotic and cholesterol a curious word used only for Scrabble games. In the good old days when people walked on the moon and snow covered London for weeks during Christmas time. No, it's too far away, I don't remember all that. It never happened.

A time when things were not weird, but strange, and then they were really strange, a David Lynch kind of strangeness. In those disconnected days before Blackberries and SPVs. Before voicemail became the interlocutors in our lives. Before Godlum appeared on the screen. What a great actor. Before the Euro and before a wall was erected in Israel. Before democracy and free market became the only alternative. When New Zealand was not yet known as the set of The Lord of The Rings. Before people started using "like" to make similes about anything and everything. Before Shrek appeared on screen and everyone loved him because like us, he doesn't understand any metaphors. When you could smoke in bars in New York and Los Angeles. Before the Bush Dynasty. when Schwarzenegger was the Terminator and not a governor. Before IPods, EBay, Viagra and spell-check. Before Western architects were lining up to build towers in China. Before people start ordering salads at McDonald's. Before music became our soundtrack. Before clothing became a costume. Before we start looking at the world as a standing stock of material. Before the word "tree" did not mean "wood".

With many thanks to:

Photographer: Zheng Kangzhen
Photographer's assistants: Liu Erdou, Zheng Huaquan
Camera Assistant: Zhang Zhibing
Light Manager: Cheng Yuwen
Light Assistants: Chen Wenfeng, Yang Nunhua
Sound director: Chen Junjun
Sound assistant: Shi Wencheng
Decorator: Zuo Zhixiong, Cha Huabing
Guangzhou Museum of Art coordinator: Xi Bei
Translator: Alice
Production: Pattara Chanruechachai, Dorothée Dupuis, Pratchaya Phinthong, Udomdak Krisanamis

Éclair VFX and Video
Production, Post-production: Joyce Menger
Coordination: Stéphanie Boutinaud
Special effects: Claire Cuinier
Video standardization: Mike Joris
Sound: Diapason
Voice: Tyler Jephcott