David Claerbout


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Highway Wreck, 2013

hd b&w animation, silent

People stuck in a traffic jam got out of their cars to look at a crashed car by the side of the road, surrounded by rescue workers. Like a body that goes into coma, the surroundings come to a standstill and all the energy is drawn towards the emergency. It becomes the single focal point of the moment. The idea for this work, however, does not come from an emergency, but almost the opposite : from a found photograph dating back more than 70 years ago. The black and white image depicts a few children and a soldier fascinated by what remains of a car that crashed moments before. But for us - looking at that photograph - means looking simultaneously at a relic of the past (the black and white image or the car) and something that just happened. What does it mean when something from the past is ‘urgent’? or, reversed: when this crash site has all the time in world, why hurry? Disaster has in common with cinema that everything in it is consumed by the here-and-now, it is the spectacular action cinema of life. Highway Wreck is an attempt to disarm that spectacle.