Tania Mouraud
2009 Face To Face

Face to Face

HD 9'
Camera, editing and sound ©Tania Mouraud 2009

Production MOA, Vancouver and Musée Bourdelle, Paris

Shooting location: Schrottinsel, Duisburg, Germany

“Does our capitalist world have a sufficient ethical foundation to avoid disaster?” Artist and Performer Tania Mouraud’s powerful installations demand a reaction to this intimate question that tugs at the ethical fabric of the global community. Her latest video and sound installation, FACE TO FACE, depicts mountains of waste in a dystopic landscape that bristles against the contrastingly pristine museum setting. Using simple tools, including a hand-size HD camera, Tania has created a wall-size projection and complementary sound composition that immerses the viewer in images and sounds from a synthetic wasteland, and requires the viewer to consider their personal contribution to the world’s landfills.  Tania created FACE TO FACE specifically for “Border Zones: New Art Across Cultures” – an unprecedented exhibition in MOA’s new Audain Gallery featuring artworks from twelve international artists who were invited to engage in a cultural dialogue. She uses this installation to tell a story that transcends physical and cultural boundaries, and to investigate the hidden effects of capitalism.

The location could be anywhere in the world, and Tania describes her work as “playing on a multicultural reading of signs.” For example, Tania describes the automated red train that runs across the projected screen as the Merchandise Train, also known as the Holocaust Train. Once used to transport ostracized Jews whose religion branded them as human refuse, this train now carries manufactured waste, a byproduct of capitalism. In another scene, Tania shows us an mountain of metal wires that, for a Canadian, might recall images of Vancouver’s logging industry, while to a European viewer this discarded mound might resemble piles of corpses discovered in the aftermath of World War II. In effect, this visually complex and multivalent work challenges the ethical foundations that inform social communities across the globe, so that Tania’s query,“Does our capitalist world have a sufficient ethical foundation to avoid disaster?” might refer to any level of disaster from genocide, environmental pollution, homelessness, or to last week’s earthquake that devastated Haiti.

Contextualized within the Audain Gallery space, the visual aspect of Tania’s installation challenges the ritualization of art objects, while the industrial noises from her sound recording interrupt the traditionally tranquil gallery environment. Similarly, the perceptible destruction of everyday objects from chairs to motor-vehicles contradicts the goal of museums to produce, preserve and present culturally significant objects. From this perspective, Tania’s installation questions the value of “art objects” against those everyday items that are deemed culturally insignificant, aesthetically displeasing trash. Through the medium of video and sound, the washing machines, crumpled cars, and monstrous industrial machines that occupy the landfill are packaged for the gallery exhibition and accepted as art.

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