The Hike

Mixed media installation, videos, photographs, objects (polyester resin, fiberglass, ropes, concrete)

Solo show at RIXC Gallery, Riga, Latvia
10/06 – 22/06/2016

The Hike is a multimedia installation – a unilateral interpretation of a situation that involves two people. The installation serves as a mock-up for this interpretation. It is a visual retelling of a story that was meant to work out but failed – moving from Antwerp to Riga.

By using the stereotypes about photography and video as unquestionable depiction of the visual reality, the installation reveals an extremely subjective retelling, thus starting a discussion about the objective and subjective reality and posing a question – which of these realities is more real. The method itself – retelling – automatically means the use of its main characteristics – deformed reality and omitted information – therefore there is an intentional visual distance between what is presented and what is real, thus both fulfilling the need to talk about these events while being in a safe position and measuring to what extent your interpretation can move away from reality or how far you can run away from yourself.

The installation includes several photos and videos, as well as a model of a route. By using vivid and fictitious characters, the installation tells a story about real-life events, urging the viewers to contemplate if the ethical ugliness of one's actions can be balanced with the evident aesthetics of the circumstances.

The installation was created by mentally going back to the place and time of these events, to once more start the journey from good to bad. Thus, moving through centuries, we end up in a non-existent and scenic environment – a situation where, according to self-help books, it is the easiest to get to know someone – on a hike.

A hike is never just the distance you walk – it almost always involves an adventure or at least a certain experience. Hence, the depicted story is not only about going in a jointly chosen direction and what you experience along the way. Rather, it moves closer to the historical relationship scheme which involves trust, courage, love and betrayal, and doesn't provide any answers about the strategic plan behind the actions, but keeps asking the question “How could you?”.

The Hike

Over the mountains, lakes, prairies and the wasteland stretches an illusion that reeks of evil, gently fidgeting a couple of meters above sea level. The sun is rising, it’s very beautiful today here on Earth, it’s okay for now, later it will be horribly sultry, the weather forecast is bad, the evil-reeking illusion is still fidgeting, but the two friends don’t notice that and are going on a hike. A hike – it’s not just some event in itself that either is successful or not without any internal control. It’s an event one has to prepare for both morally and physically – similarly as in the case of a marathon or a first date – and even after having carefully prepared for it it’s impossible to know if it will be successful or not because there is also such thing as force majeure and so on. This hike, unfortunately, won’t be successful, but both friends don’t know it yet :(

They are walking along a brooklet and thinking to themselves all kinds of thoughts – both clever and stupid, both happy and not so much. Some thoughts they say out loud, thus forming a conversation. They’re talking about what art is and isn’t, what should or shouldn’t be eaten, what is simultaneously both dead and alive in a box, as well as about girls they like:

I like this girl who I met in a bar. She was very sad and I consoled her. She even cried, it seemed. The name of the bar has changed but you still can smoke inside.

I like that girl who is currently away on Erasmus exchange program – not for studies, but internship. I can talk to her about almost anything – not like with others. I’ve met her only once on the street, though.

The friends stop to eat and then continue their journey, the weather forecast is still bad, the illusion is still fidgeting, they are silent but still thinking, for example, one of them is thinking:

A hike is like an experiment – it’s impossible for it to be unsuccessful. Even if everything doesn’t go as planned, it has happened, furthermore, it has been successful because we felt happy for one moment. Sure, it’s hard, because it obviously will end, and it’s scary that, when you’re scared, it can end even faster. But we’re walking along the brooklet, so at least we don’t have to be scared that we’ll run out of freshwater.

he’s thinking and accidentally looks back to see that his friend has stayed behind a bit and, with pants down, is calmly peeing into the aforementioned brooklet. The urine stream, mixed with the clear water, fades in pastel yellow colour and bickers somewhere backwards. The brooklet is constantly renewing itself, therefore the freshwater reserves aren’t spoiled, but a deep and noticeable wound of betrayal starts to form in the heart of the surprised observer.

It was a bad idea from the very beginning, he thinks, while observing, as if hypnotized, his peeing friend. Maybe it’s like in those family movies from the 80s, where a kind-hearted researcher tames, for example, a puma. Everything is so good and simple, and beautiful, but in the end turns out in such an illogical and stupid - even incomprehensible – way: the researcher is standing by the jungle and the tamed puma, fearfully looking back to its foster-father, still returns to its native wilderness.

But he doesn’t understand who in this case is the puma, who – the researcher and what is the jungle. He’s in the transition phase. It’s a diverse approach – from point A to point B, from going to not going, from hot to lukewarm and back.

Enough for today, - says the pee-er, who hasn’t noticed his trivial betrayal, - I’m a bit tired and soon a bloody moon will rise. I have chronic fatigue syndrome and if I don’t have my rest, tomorrow I will suffer from the symptoms of this disease: sore throat, temperature, tender lymph nodes, impaired concentration and memory.

They put up a tent and go to sleep, without saying a word to each other. At about 4 AM the bad pee-er jumps up from a bad dream. It feels hot and cramped in the tent, and a teary condensate is covering its walls. The bad friend crawls out of the tent to stretch his limbs. Red moonlight is shining on the back of his head, and the dome of the evil-reeking illusion is fidgeting lower and more expressively than ever before. He clears his throat and spits on the thick grass, sits down, lights a cigarette and, after finding his camouflage-coloured mp3 player, puts on the earphones. The bad friend is sitting outside the tent and with a smirk on his face is looking at the nowhere land that is illuminated by the moon, listening to mediocre compositions by some dead minimalists, where the clank of bells and tinklers interchanges with silent pauses of different lengths.

It’s somehow really not clear: am I evil or stupid, or maybe both, he thinks, stands up and disappears in the dark without looking back. The illusion convulsively fidgets for the last time and freezes forever.

Text by Klavs Mellis

From Antwerp To Riga. Dortmund, 2015

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Growing Cold, 140x105cm, 2016