Markus Schinwald

I realised I had no post about Austrian Video artist Markus Schinwald despite him being my very first video art influence. In 2005, I saw “Dictio Pii” (2001) at the Tate modern and I was immeditely spellbound by it. The video shows strange, stoic looking characters wandering aimlessly though a drab, dark hotel that would not look out of place in a David Lynch or Roy Andersson movie, or a Kafka novel. The characters perform odd, seemingly pointless actions and seem utterly lost in the labyrinth of the hotel. Apparently, the journey of each character is on a separate channel and the viewer is invited to switch between them with a remote. However I did not know that when I saw it at the Tate as I did not get access to the remote. I thought the switch of point of view was pre-ordained by the artist. This turned out irrelevant to my enjoyment of the piece though.

I copy here the haunting voice over monologue that accompanies the characters’s meanderings:

We are the perfume of corridors
Unfamiliarised with isolated activity
Traitors of privacy.

We are Utopian craftsmen
Scope heeled diplomats, pretty beggars
Not the product of poverty
We don’t take from anyone.

We are pillared by mild sadness and polymorphic history
Eternally skeptical,

But We Believe.

We are immortal volunteers
Living in the sensation of being everything
And the certitude of being nothing.
We are just an outline.

We disband prompted paths of movement
Extend our bodies,
Become abysmal dancers.
We are illiterate of perfection, following the curves of belief.
Interested only in the gestures of bending.
Scaffold-ed postures,
obscene geometry.
Frozen irony.

We are derranged.

Other works with the same atmosphere of claustrophobia and isolation seem to be “1st Part conditionnal” (2004) and
“Ten in Love” but I could only see excerpts from it on youtube.