Two-channel video installation, HD, sound, 31 min (loop)
"About the Walls Next to Me" is a video installation with performative realization, made up of footage of many unknown people temporarily inhabit a specific space. In addition to their bodies, some are present there with a beloved item brought from their own home (lamps, chairs, etc.)
For about an hour, they communicate with each other silently, without a word heard.
At the heart of the project is the method of family constellations. Our individual behavior, feelings and attitudes are considered and made sense of in the context of the larger group, as each person is part of a family and assumes certain roles within that structure.
The space is Etage 8 – on the eighth floor of an industrial building on the outskirts of Sofia. The specificity of the particular architecture (a glazed space on the top floor), makes it something of a separate capsule in the overall urban environment. Sitting in it, one has a view from a distance in all directions. People can observe the residential districts, the industrial zones, the mountains, analyse the dynamics of the city. The aim is to inhabit this space with the presence of people, without speaking, under the sounds of their own bodies and the silence.
Yorgos Lanthimos' film “The Lobster” takes us to a dystopian environment where people without an intimate partner are forcibly sent to a special hotel where they have 45 days to find one (partner), and if they fail, they are turned into the animal of their choice. Under the pressure of this danger, the characters make every effort to fit into the framework of acceptable social behavior, using their entire arsenal of knowledge of what that would be, and, ultimately, failing. The narrative problematizes the conventions of human relationships, the vulnerability of the individual in a group, and change.
In his project, like Lanthimos, Kalin Serapionov builds a sterile environment for social communication, setting ground rules – no words, and a single goal – communication.
In the process of adaptation to the unusual environment, primal human instincts and forms of exchange are activated. In everyday life these are usually suppressed by our drive towards productivity. The participants, obviously restricted by the ban on verbal communication, seem rather happy to be freed from it – they indulge in introverted pursuits – play, contemplation, sleep. Each individual gets the opportunity to consume time, space, and her/his body exclusively according to their personal desires. As time progresses, the participants also proceed to some socializing, but again it’s delicate, non-invasive.
Speechless, the participants turn (once again) to the body as the primary medium of expression. We observe how, in some cases augmented by the immutable prostheses of technology, their bodies participate in new rituals of constructing closeness – those of modern cyborgs. At times the body is self-sufficient while it seeks surfaces and tissues; at other times it needs the bodies of others.
In line with the rupture of capitalist ideology, the participants' behaviour is perhaps symptomatic of modern man's need for stillness and a rethinking of our ideal of a fulfilling life.
DoP Tillman Rödiger
Steadicam operator Bobi Belberov
First assistant Eva Petrunova
Assistant Steadicam Vanya Ivanova
Gaffer Dimitar Yordanov
Second assistant Steadicam Andrey Kirkov
Editing Kalin Serapionov
Sound environment Georgi Atanasov
Special thanks to Elena Antonova, Georgi Nikolov / Magic Shop, Orlin Ruevski, Momchil Tashev, Ilinka Tchergarova
Text by Bojana Djikova
Photographs Teodora Dzherekarova