Kidnap

Kidnap is a multi media installation, which consists of an architectural structure housing a single channel video, surrounded by a series of accompanying large-scale photos and drawings relating to the video. These elements all work together in a symbiotic relationship and provide evidence to the inner workings behind a child’s obsessions. The video is a 15-minute single channel projection. It recounts the tale of a young boy's obsession and paranoia of being kidnapped. Shot in the countryside outside of Basel, Switzerland, several characters dressed in red-hooded uniforms engage in a series of clandestine rituals that unfold in a fairytale-like sequence. The video chronicles the passage of time during a 12-hour period from dusk to dawn. The central time-keeping device during the video is the construction of a large wooden bonfire and its subsequent incineration and destruction. All the while, the film is narrated by a series of subtitles. Although the narration is told through the point of view of a child, his recollection of his youth confuses perceptions of past and present as he reflects back on his childhood terror of falling asleep, fear of the dark and a recurring fantasy in which he is kidnapped and cloned.

The video unfolds in a dreamlike sequence going back and forth between the bonfire, ritualistic actions taking place in the darkened Swiss forest and scenes shot inside of a car. Using symbolic imagery such as fire, skull-and-crossbones, scarecrows, daggers, and red-hooded cloaks, the video relies on iconic and allegorical childhood narratives to portray activities anchored in reality but predicated on fantastical narrative structures such as fairy tales, fables, and myths. The large-scale photographs that accompany the DVD show scenes not included in the actual video. They give evidence to an imagined story line that exists outside of what the viewer sees in the film. Romantic midnight interludes in the forest, incantations cast by firelight, and figures sleeping in the mist parallel the lives of the anonymous figures in the video. The series of photographs contribute to the evolution of these uniform-clad anonymous characters into universal stand-ins for the idea of adolescence and youth. The sense of foreboding tinged with playful fantasy characteristic of the video and photos is mimicked in a suite of complex figurative drawings on Mylar and Plexiglas. Androgynous figures of indeterminate age float on top of and through each other in a layered composition separated by planes of Plexiglas and semi-opaque Mylar paper.

Cast in semi-violent situations and in fairy-tale like environments in the forest amongst animals, hooded figures in uniforms engage in rituals similar to those in the photographs and video. These ghostlike figures are caught in free-floating, awkward, transitional states: sometimes their images are doubled; sometimes they seem as if they are as much animal as human. Optically, the figures fade in and out of each other in a series of tentative shapes and patterns that read like traces of previous drawings and refer to memory and transition.