Film/The Third Thing: An Experiment in intervals III – Violet Desert, TERRITORY – sluice x pada studios

Site-specific video work presented by THE THIRD THING for TERRITORY EXPO, Sluice x PADA Studios in Barriero, Portugal.

For Georges Bataille, monstrosity regarded not simply what was against the sacred or divine, but that quality which materialised in the machinations of state violence and industrial and capital exploitation: the smokestack, the factory, the industrial zone. These were apparatus denoting spatial territories that were seen to materialise a disorder under God. 

An Experiment in Intervals III – Violet Desert, reads the site of the industrial park in Barreiro, Portugal through the lens of ‘monstrous architecture’. Shaped by the industrial expansion brought about by Companhia União Fabril, the site exists in a liminal zone. It is haunted by the promises of economic prosperity and the failure of such promises. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the site houses plural identities and multiple futures. It is representative of both monstrosity as threat and opportunity.

‘Violet Desert’ is a play on the title of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1964 film Il Deserto Rosso (The Red Desert). Renowned for depicting stark scenes of industrial architecture, Antonioni’s protagonist Giuliana (Monica Vitti) is tormented by the alienating force of living within modernity. Her growing neuroses reflects Antonioni’s desolate vision of the capitalist world – the conflict of a modern brain and a tired worn out body. However, Giuliana’s inability – or unwillingness – to inhabit such a dichotomy also speaks to another aspect of the monstrous as located in the power of the unruly feminine to transgress the status quo. 

The monster exists historically as the deformation of ‘natural law’ – the corrupted off-spring of the classical Man as perturbed by the fecundity of the Feminine. In the context of colonial, patriarchal and capitalist ideologies, the children of modernity have grown to represent this off-spring; our alienation and hybridity a contemporary monstrosity. 

Monstrosity therefore signifies an opportunity to come undone through discontinuity. It is an invitation to actualise an Interval as a disruption-negotiation of our before-after. As Karan Barad asks, can the fragility of monstrosity help us transition from our “political and spiritual rigour mortis towards a living raging animacy?”. Can monstrosity be an opportunity to arrive to our living-being despite, and through, the ideological hauntings that history imposes?

Two-channel Video (09’34”)/ Photography (#2)

More details at THE THIRD THING.


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