David Claerbout


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Oil workers (from the Shell company of Nigeria) returning home from work, caught in torrential rain, 2013

hd color animation, duration endless, silent

Meticulously reconstructed from a found photograph, this portrait shows a group of Nigerian men as they seek shelter from monsoon rains. At first, the hastily taken snapshot seems to show people who will quickly walk away as soon as the rain ends. But sometimes photographs speak twice: A second look reveals a sense that these people are stuck. The video uses 3D computer techniques and a simple camera movement, setting adrift the original image’s certainties.

Of all the manifestations of time, waiting is one of the most difficult, because it involves being unproductive. The price tag that hangs on minutes, hours and days makes time expensive. When time is money it is difficult to see unproductive time as free; waiting can be a new experience for some, while others cannot stand it. Drought, conflict and poverty surround Africa like a cloud of flies, determining the picture we have of a continent. It is rarely portrayed as wet, which is the central matter of this piece and an ideal point of departure for a story about the oil industry.