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NOCTURNE

2006, 28', video 4:3, black & white, silent, infrared camera, mini DV
DISTRIBUTION & PRESERVATION - ARGOS Centre for Art and Media

The course of daytime obeying the pace of the sun is an increasing and decreasing identification of things. At noon things coincide with themselves, they reach their complete identity. You can say there’s nothing left to guess for, that everything is as it is because seeming and being are one. At night though, things gain a reserve of meaning in their shadow.
Nighttime has a tragic connotation on the Italian island of Lampedusa. This handful of rocks situated south of Sicily is the closest European point to the north of the African continent. Further from Europe's coast than Africa’s (about 100 km from Tunisia and 200 km from Sicily), it geologically even belongs to the African continent.
In origin an island of fishermen, this fascinating and isolated place has become a touristic resort. Its extraordinary history came to a new chapter with the continuous arrival of refugees, ‘clandestini’, from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. With good weather conditions and often during nighttime, numerous small boats with asylum seekers head towards Lampedusa. Each year thousands of people risk their lives by crossing the Mediterranean Sea in an attempt to reach Europe, the promised land. When intercepted by the ‘guardia costiera’, the refugees generally are brought to land at night, to hide them from the tourists and the local citizens. Since the local refugee centre is overcrowded, they get deported by plane to refugee centres elsewhere. In the meantime, the fishermen of Lampedusa keep on finding the corpses of those refugees who didn’t reach the island and found their tragic end at sea. Or as the boat rental services on Lampedusa ironically advertise: “La più bella isola del mondo”.
nocturne captures the island’s schizophrenic and tense atmosphere. An infrared camera registers several spots on and around the island. The dark, abstract and suggestive images give a nocturnal impression of important areas like the local airport, the town centre and harbor area, the refugee centre, the coastal area, military zones and other well guarded areas. Human presence has been reduced to some anonymous, unidentifiable luminous dots, or to the suggestive black space in between. As an anti-image, this essay on Fort Europe offers an alternative for the way traditional media generally approach this subject.
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