I can finally see the exhibition Off Stage almost at its offstage moment: It is the finissage day, summer temperatures make Baden brighter, and the Kunstraum offers fresh shadows of concentration. The video exhibition articulates the different aspects of what happens before, after, and beyond the stage. For example, the film’s sounds as meaningful bearers of the hors-cadre (Lea Fröhlicher, There Is Still Water, 2018), the rehearsal of singers in the form of staged performance and musical composition (Jannik Giger, Blind Audition, 2022), the pure observation of spontaneous offstage urban performances (Mireille Gros, More Than I Can Say, 2009). Between the poles of the offstage as filmic theme and the offstage as filmic reference, the exhibition expresses a clever curatorial idea from Claudia Spinelli.
What particularly impressed me – and gives me the opportunity to focus of one specific aspect of the offstage reflection in the exhibition – is Noha Mokhtar’s short video El hob wal melh / Love & Salt (2012). With a simple concept that could well work within the framework of a video essay, she places the excerpt of an old Egyptian telenovela on the stage of a home reception and, through the same gesture, she explores the posthumous offstage (a luxurious apartment) of what the telenovela refers to, that being the corruption around the confiscation of the royal wealth. Through a 360 degree camera movement, not only do real present and fictional past play dialectically together, but we go deep into the experience of ourselves as voyeurs. The voyeur attitude that is inherent to any filmic offstage finds here an intriguing magnification, or deepening, insofar as we cannot but form the experience of ourselves as tri-dimensional voyeurs. This amounts to unmasking the voyeurism of the filmic offstage, where the only offstage space will become our own point of view, our own body.
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
First published: June 14, 2022