O, 2012

3 channel film installation

”O”, a three channel video installation by the artist Virlani Hallberg, is a scenic study investigating both whatsurfaces and what stays hidden in normal life. ”O” is a portrait of a triangular relationship between a newly-wed, young, and wealthy Swedish couple and a female domestic worker of color, with whom they share everyday life in their estate. ”O” examines how notions of normality assume the form of routine, it explores the place – the presence and absence, the possibility and impossibility - of intimacy and desire within the "scripts" of the normal. It investigates how those scripts are enacted, embodied, and negotiated, and how their inherent power relations shape both victims and perpetrators. "O" studies these processes with a camera-gaze that registers the surface as well as it’s inevitable movements and cracks – the surface of what is articulable and what remains tacit – silent agreements, as expressed in gazes and gestures, the mundane surface of routine, the surfaces of the objects of domestic life, and the surfaces of landscapes and faces as they become expressions and projection screens of desires and dreams, in which there always lingers the "other", the uncanny and repressed side of normality’s surface. "O" is a study of whiteness and color too, interrogating the presence and the haunting absence of history and power relations in a domestic situation and a particular "order". It is a study of how systemic and structural power relations appear on the micro-level of personal relationships, how individiuals become objects of each other’s desires and begin to objectify themselves. Hence, what is systematically repressed on behalf of order, returns in the form of desire transforming individuals into agents of structural violence. On the one hand, the protagonists are trapped, caught up in reflexive double-binds. But on the other hand – through presence of the domestic worker who is their servant – both object of violence and projection surface of the white woman’s desires. A different, subjugated history is also present, one that calls for the need and the possibility of speaking to and contesting normality and it’s impersonal, structural violence, which usually remains "silent" and passes unquestioned.

- Anselm Franke

Individual and collective trauma – the effects of violence – whether conscious or not, keep us bound to repetition. Ultimately, my work raises the question of whether it is possible to break away from this often self-fulfilling prophecy of individual suffering in order to create awareness of the psychological mechanism of the “double bind”? For in repetition, there is always transformation, too. In order to make this transformative power available, the appearance of “reality” as “real” and “given” has to be challenged. This can be achieved through fiction.

- Virlani Hallberg, 2012

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Photo: Petter Lehto
Photo: Petter Lehto
Virlani Hallberg
Still from the 3 - channel, video installation "O". 
Cinematography: Iga Mikler, Grading: Erik Fhölenhag.

Director, script, production och editied: Virlani Hallberg. Actors: Ida Gyllensten, Wilhelm Gustafsson & Virlani Hallberg. cinematography: Iga Mikler. B-photo: Benjam Orre. Sound design: Oscar Alvarez. Post production/ grading: Erik Fhölenhag, Fasad. Productions assistant's: Natasja Loutchko, Anaïde Chirinian, Samantha Louise Michel, Anna Zacharoff, Samir Al-Nehlaoui, Ashlee Christman.

With kind support by C-G Wachtmeister, Taipei Biennial - Taipei Fine Arts Museum