Videoart at Midnight #69: Stefan Zeyen's About Contempt

27 Nov 2015

Kino Babylon

Berlin, Germany


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In About Contempt Stefan Zeyen gives us what should be the perfect work of conceptual art.


A work devoid of priori signifier, devoid of narrative, devoid of the human. The objective eye of the camera seems to wander hazardously through the white cube. But with Georges Delerue’s well-known melodramatic score our cinematographic memory is soon mobilised, despite the abstraction set up by the gallery market space. Instead, the video is split by our memories of a story. Zeyen delves precisely into the interstice that is spared between the moving-image and its non-narrative referent. 


If we are to recall Godard’s Contempt, we find that the classical narrative of the romantic estrangement was constantly disrupted. In fact, the very melodramatic soundtrack seemed to be the only narrative element of the movie – the camera moved independently, the story suffered numerous ellipsis and the dialogues were often covered up by the omnipresent soundtrack. Actually, not quite. In the apartment scenes of Godard’s film, it was the minimalistic white apartment that expressed the characters’ struggle. Their acting seemed otherwise artificial, detached. 


As in Zeyen’s video, the narrative found itself enhanced through its containment into a closed space. Here, not only are the characters absent but so are the bright colours of the furniture : leaving only the anthropophagic white emptiness. It is the space itself that reflects the filmic emotions. It so appears that the camera eye is not so technical after all. Exploring the “sheets” of our cinematographic past, it seeks to find what is at stake behind the indifference – indistinctly Bardot’s terrible indifference and the gallery’s – and by doing so, it reintroduces another kind of narrative. It is through the hallucinatory piano score and the wandering camera, that we slowly let ourselves take over by the power of melodrama – the white cube’s intruder. We eventually find ourselves wondering: why so much contempt? - Jade de Cock de Rameyen 

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Exhibiting artists

Stefan Zeyen


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