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Black Box – Brognon & Rollin – Casino Luxembourg

In their recent video works, David Brognon and Stéphanie Rollin explore the margins of territories and boundaries – geographical, political, moral and psychological – that humans, at times brutally, have appropriated and defend or (un)consciously ignore. Curious and intrepid, the two artists go wherever their research takes them, working in the field and in direct – occasionally physical – confrontation with their subjects. Risk-taking is integral to their approach, and the terrains on which they venture can prove extremely fruitful.
The Agreement, 2015
Colour video, sound
10 min 5 sec
Production / collection BPS22 – Musée d’art de la Province de Hainaut, Charleroi, Belgium

Games, politics and religion are conceptual protocols applied to reality so as to transcend it. Rules, shared by contagious tacit agreement and formalized in books, reinvent lives and define territories. In Jerusalem, a palimpsest city ceaselessly rebuilt upon itself, the Franciscan school Terra Sancta stands alongside the perimeter wall of the Old City, whose every square millimetre is steeped in history. In the courtyard, a soccer pitch has been laid out in the lopsided space, bending the rules of perspective and parallelism to adapt to reality. It’s impossible for the nets to face each other. The approximate centre circle shortens the field to the advantage of one team. An accident of symmetry that disrupts the game.

The Agreement documents a new geometric compromise among the students to determine the exact centre of the field. To measure it. To draw it with as much arduous effort as their elders devote to discussions aimed at finding a balance for the entire country. And to begin playing fairly, in the same game, on the same land.
Cosmographia (Tatihou Island), 2015
Colour video, sound
15 min 5 sec

Cosmographia is the first of a series devoted to the contradictory vision of the island as a place of exclusion. Though now a symbol of getting away, of disconnecting from the grid, from others, from demands, the island is first and foremost a desolate place, cut off from humanity. A small prison territory, used as such to banish undesirables, to “store” them like more or less dangerous or perishable goods, depending on the times. The islands of Alcatraz, Makronissos, St. Helena, Tatihou and Gorée constitute a geographic and symbolic locus with a double meaning, between getaway and confinement, which David Brognon and Stéphanie Rollin have chosen to map, to trace full-scale on site.

For four days, centimetre by centimetre, they reproduced on paper the 1.6-kilometre circumference of Tatihou Island, in Normandy, put the results in envelopes and sent them to the project commissiooner in Paris to be stored and classified in an archiving system of their design. In all, more than 2,113 geographic and carceral fragments abducted before being sealed in an implacable steel shelving unit. To trace the outline of an island is to inscribe the movement of the waves that batter the beaches and cliffs, to fix a fleeting, impossible boundary. Cosmographia is a work shaped by a journey. The artists’ journey toward this symbolic place, the journey of a hand following an elusive line, slow progression in an age of immediacy.
This first “fingerprinting” of places haunted by detention introduces a performance of action and contemplation that creates the true instead of seeking the truth. With their visual pilgrimage along the path of our shameful symbols, the two artists make movement a necessary condition of our relationship to the world. A meticulous and monumental series that refocuses the viewer’s gaze at a time when the virtual is constantly pushing us to pinch ourselves to prove our reality.
Hangover, 2016
Colour video, sound
4 min 19 sec

Hangover recites a partial list of the prohibitions regarding entrance to various holy sites in Jerusalem: the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Temple Mount. Territorial rules to be followed by pilgrims and other visitors ranging from appropriate conduct to mandatory security: No pushing. No running; Entrance to the complex necessitates a security check; Religious/ritual acts that are outwardly visible are forbidden; According to Torah Law, entering this area is strictly forbidden due to the holiness of the site, etc. Down-to-earth regulations superimposed by Brognon and Rollin over images of the latest attempt to break the freefall space jump record … back to earth .

Subbar, Sabra, 2015
Two-channel projection, colour video, sound
6 min 47 sec
In collaboration with D. Almasy

Imported from Mexico in the 16th century, the prickly pear cactus, or Barbary fig, was called subbar by the Arabs of Palestine. Planted in rows, it served to mark the boundaries of neighbouring parcels of land. In those days, the impassable barriers of spines served as a cadastre, or property map.The useful plant later became a metaphor for Jews putting down roots on the same land. Its Hebrew name,sabra, came to stand for all Jews born in the region before 1948 and their Israeli descendants. But as the Arab villages were razed, the roots of the cacti planted around the gardens survived, and over the years the subbar regrew to become the ghostly imprint of the Arab presence in the territory. The biblical hills saw cactus fences re‑emerge to surround empty spaces.

Since then, the prickly pear has been a schizophrenic symbol, shared by two antagonistic peoples. A plant synonymous with taking back the land, both literally and figuratively. Subbar, Sabra is a performance video shot in October 2015, during the onset of an unprecedented wave of knife attacks in Jerusalem and across the country.
Wikipedia english definition  : Sabra (Hebrew: ‫צבר) is a slang word that has become integrated into the formal Hebrew language, used to describe an Israeli-born Jew. The word first appeared in the 1930s when it referred to a Jew born in the region of Ottoman or British Mandatory Palestine. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Israelis have used the word to indicate a Jew born in Israel. The word was borrowed from the Hebrew name given to a Mexican cactus common in Israel – tzabar matzui (Opuntia ficus-indica), and alludes to contrast between the plant’s thorny, spiky outer skin and its soft, sweet interior, suggesting that though the Israeli sabras are rough on the outside, they too are soft on the inside.  In Arabic, the cactus is called صبار ṣubbār; the related term sabr also translates to “patience” or “tenacity”. The concept of sabr features prominently in the nonviolent resistance movement to Israeli military occupation. The prickly pear cactus represents the Palestinian struggle for freedom in both oral history and literature. Renowned poet Mahmoud Darwish frequently uses the prickly pear cactus as a symbol of the Palestinian people in his work. Author Nadia Taysir Dabbagh compares the resilience of the cactus to that of the Palestinian people, writing, “The idea is that, even in an arid or harsh climate or environment, the Palestinians manage to go on living and surviving against all odds
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BlackBox - David Brognon & Stéphanie Rollin 
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