Saturday, 12 November 2011

ZEE – Kurt Hentschläger, AND Festival/FACT Liverpool

I am staring at this screen trying to find the starting point; there is a point some time ago during the summer. At this point I'm reading the travel section of The Guardian which has a bit about the AND Festival it strikes me that most of the works explore themes that I had tried to explore in my practice. To be honest there is a prang of jealously.

Does this explain why it took me so long to get involved, or was it just mistiming? As every time I go to sign up its full or there's no time.

Whatever the reasons, a window opens and I take it. It begins with the filling of forms, this pragmatic introduction continues when I and the others taking part gather outside the gallery space. Then we queue quite normally in what appears to be a clinical corridor, a corridor filling with smoke. It reminds me of early Doctor Who sets, I mean something this prosaic can't be dangerous – right?

The invigilator reads the safety checklist, is this to reassure us or to add to the drama, who knows it's time to cross the threshold.

I can't remember what hit me first the choking density of the fog the equally dense hum or the barrage of strobes. They happen at once, the moment is now. Hand on rope this little group edge forward, I do let go of the rope and take two steps away but get nervous, nervous that I would lose myself? Disperse into this fog? So far this experience is bringing back memories of my one and only hallucinogenic experience or rather the first moments as my brain started feeding back on itself, that experience wasn't pleasant I grab hold of the rope for some stability. A sense of safety in this shifting space.

Somewhere in between the flashes and particles of smoke I'm pretty sure that I see the grey of FACT's Gallery 1 space, maybe it's my brain attempt to re-establish a sense of location maybe I'm in conflict between what I know and what I'm experiencing. There are little moments of panic, disorientation I keep bumping into the person in front of me, keep bumping into their afterimage. At some point whatever is in front of me disappears and the exit appears in my face. I press through the door back into the place we started only this time it's full of fog, dense white on white I can't see the real exit another moment of panic but I stumble through and find myself back on this side. Where ever this side is.

There is a sense of relief. Everyone say something about their experience, which is the point of this installation. ZEE can be looked upon as the ultimate personality test all you can take in is all you know, all you believe every cultural reference will come rushing forward in a crazed attempt to explain what's happening to fill the void as it were. Maybe the true site of ZEE is all in your mind.

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