Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige
Lebanon / France
180 Seconds of Lasting Images, 2006
4500 Lambda Photo prints on wood with Velcro strip, 408x265 cm
Courtesy of the artists and FRAC Bretagne
The authors explain that their project 180 Seconds of Lasting Images derives from their video installation Lasting Images created earlier. Here is their description of the project: "We printed all the images of the super-8 lm. Each photogram is treated as a separate entity, cut out and placed on a spiral forming a mosaic of 4,500 vignettes. Each photogram, reduced to a size of 4x6 cm, to obtain good photo quality, is stuck on a Velcro strip, and seems to quiver.

At first sight, the work appears to be a white abstract painting (2.68x4.08 meters in size) with some purple hues. The picture develops and reveals itself all at once in a temporality different from that of the lm, allowing each viewer to grasp the images at his own rhythm. Through the whiteness, the opalescence of the lm a lasting image surges up again, an image is still there, as if it could not be completely shaded out, present yet ghostly. The reel's phantom forms are reanimated permanently, affirming their refusal to disappear."

As it follows from the above description the work is based on two constituents: the images recreating reality with maximum possible veracity and an abstract-symbolic composition. In this way the viewer moves constantly from one level to the other: from real-life scenes to purely formal. The viewer is thus given to understand that no image can be reduced to its visible appearance and that its ultimate essence resides in another dimension, where an ornamental play guides the eye, that is, in the realm of imagination. Therefore, the images connected with the war and death are estranged and become objects of outside observation. Moreover, despite the general impression one gets from the whole work it is impossible to digest all the 180 prints at once and the lm arranged over the surface appears as a vast ghostly apparition. To quote Immanuel Kant, a spectacle which exceeds man's abilities of comprehension can only be described in the category of the sublime. Sublime historical experience – this is how philosopher of history Franklin Rudolf Ankersmit suggested to approach history, especially traumatic historical experiences. History is not to be narrated but to be played with, it should not be treated as a science but as a work of art which makes the past visible and thus provides an opportunity for "these phantom forms to be reanimated permanently, affirming their refusal to disappear."
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