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PARADISE - multichannel video

„Paradise“ is a long-term project. It lives by the abundance and diversity of the participating persons. When Karina Smigla-Bobinski is travelling, meets repeatedly people who would sit down in front of her camera and relate:

What do you know about paradise?
What is paradise for you?
And where is it ?

It has been always the same three questions, but the answers - and that is of course what makes the work so interesting - sound every time new. So „Paradise“ has grown over the years, to a small encyclopedia, cross-generational and cross-cultural.
Formally, Smigla-Bobinski keeps at the pattern of the „talking head“, as the american news anchors were called in the late 1960s, for the first time: a talking head on the neck and shoulders, but without the rest of the body. This causes inevitably, a reduction in the appearance of the person, to what he has to say. Although we also see their facial expressions, however, the body language remains generally hidden. And that is indeed, for „Paradise“ the right point of view, because this is about metaphysics - in the hereafter as well as here on earth.

„Paradise“ is not a site-bound video installation, but will be shown in various formats. Originally designed for the six bull‘s-eye round windows in the foyer of the Munich Staatstheater on Gaertnerplatz, the work was so far at many places, in different projection solutions and even as a single-channel video with consecutively cut segments. But the best is just for this issue, of course, the parallel presence of several persons whose pictures you see and whose voices can be heard if you set up a headset.

Smigla-Bobinski scrutinise in „Paradise“ wittingly about two different topics. The „knowledge“ of it, as an over-individual picture, fed from collective cultural values, confronts the private imagination. Here are the collective values turned into a personal form, and it gets often biographical. A large number of interviewees place the personal site of the (perfect) happiness in this world. Sometimes there are concrete or imaginary private enclaves, especially for the elderly people childhood and youth appear there, and it becomes clear that the original sense of the word - the Persian word „PAIRI-DAEZA“ means „circumscribed area“ - finds its meaning already in THIS World. Of course, images of otherworldly paradise turn up in the context of different religions. It is Smigla-Bobinskis concern to gather the differences and similarities from these discourses. In particular, the policies of salvation are an interest of her: How is the hope of eternal happiness instrumentalized in order to motivate people to extreme actions?

Generally, however, paradise opens a space of encounter. This theme seems to have a great significance for the individual identity. People get more specifical about the appearance of it, just by talking of it and get closer one another because, though their analysis is very intimate, as a basic parameter of the „Condition Humaine“, on the other hand, stays generally relevant. Smigla-Bobinski invites to come closer to these people and to reflect oneself in them. The sharing of the stories always brings one‘s own ideas and stereotypes in motion and opens the horizon not only for the metaphysical, but also into the social reflections. With this in mind, it is quite close to revise Jean-Paul Sartre: The Paradise is: the others.

Videoinstallation in Statetheatre at the Gärtnerplatz for 850-year anniversary of Munich by Hanne Weskott, München, 2008

(...) Paradise as personal happieness, says the theory. In practice the ideas of paradise look like a bit more terrestial and much less utopical. Many of the persons interwieved by Karina Smigla-Bobinski, believe they found paradise and not necessarily very afar, in spite of the fact, that they themselves, do not have the reason to suppose to live in paradise. The longer one listens to the interviews the more an impression appears that the picture of paradise is very strongly bound on Here and Now. Thereby certain resemblances appear despite the different religions. Paradise means for many of them their home, the family, the profession. It can also be a spiritual place, the childhood‘s garden, that one visits to fill up forces. Or, for example a house in Gaza Strip, not existing any more, only a key left, kept like a relic. It is often a home town, many associate it with a sea, sun and palm trees. They yearn for places where the poors of the world eke out their miserable existence. But this accurs in their dreams just as little as the high cost of living in the own town. (...)

Technical Specifications

description > multichannel video
components > video, DVD players, projectors, headphones, amplifiers
> variable
premiere > 2008

Production of Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz
Supported by Magic Event- & Medientechnik GmbH

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> Videoinstallation in Statetheatre at the Gärtnerplatz for 850-year anniversary of Munich by Hanne Weskott, München, 2008