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THE BEST WAY TO COVER UP A LIE

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 „It is deucedly difficult to tell a lie when you don’t know the truth.”
Peter Esterhazy

 The new video by Ruben Gutierrez, which he has filmed during his residency program at Impakt Foundation in September 2012, is the most twisted post-apocalyptic fantasy you’ll ever encounter.

Gutierrez’s projects always have something to do with absurdity and they often relate to common B-movie clichés of the end of the world or a great cataclysm in a cynical way. His works question the raison d’etre of labels such as post-modernism or conceptualism and even of the value of art and aesthetics in a world that is doomed – the western civilization.

The film The best way to cover up a lie is a fusion of all the ideas that appear in his previous projects and could serve somewhat as a summary of his oeuvre at this point. There is no linear narrative or a story in a classical sense. What we get instead are scenes and characters appearing in the different layers of reality in a mise-en-abyme structure. Applying metanarrative, this very post-modern tool to point out the meaninglessness of all the post-isms is sort of ironic, yet this trick quite prevalent in Gutierrez’s artistic practice – deconstructing a notion by using it.

In his latest film the two protagonists wander relentlessly in the city of Locochonia – a strange fantasyland with a strong apocalyptic atmosphere. We see them running down empty streets, hiding in abandoned buildings, contemplating the horizon covered in the smoke of explosions, experiencing anxiety, fear and hopelessness as they are trying to fight their destiny – a destiny still being written by an author who is also struggling with her own. The relation between the characters is just as uncertain as their reality or their fate. They are all lost and trapped in a way, either physically in this maze-like city, or in the labyrinth of their thoughts that they cannot escape. The labyrinth motif appears throughout the film on different levels of reality, just as the mysterious witch or the conspicuously strange lack of birds in the sky. These recurring motifs and allusions create a rhythm, and give the structure of the film by loosely connecting its layers. A film of such complexity with so many references requires full attention of the viewer and definitely wouldn’t be easy to watch if it wasn’t for Ruben’s sarcastic humor. You can never be sure if he is bluffing or not, but you can’t help this feeling that you’ve been tricked somehow.

At least by reading my interpretation of a film I’ve never seen. Absurdity is.

Panorama Artist in Focus, Friday 26 October 2012, ‘t Hoogt