Stunned Man / Trilogy of Failure (Part II), 2004

Still: Courtesy the artist

Two-channel video installation, color, sound
32 min 50 sec (videos)
Overall dimensions variable
Co-produced by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin and Rumi Verjee

Stunned Man is part of Trilogy of Failure, three films, or rather film installations, which deal with the absurdity of our everyday rituals. The protagonists in Trilogy of Failure, a stuntman, a Foley artist and three stand-up comedians from New York, are watched in their homes through a distanced camera-perspective, going about their normal day-to-day activities. There is no dramaturgy, no line of suspense or narrative editing. The Stunned Man explores the boundaries of what is physically feasible with his own body, which he constantly correlates with his surroundings. He is observed at home, in a re-constructed studio setting. On two screens we watch him as he reads his paper, shaves in the bathroom, dusts and tidies up his apartment. But whereas the actor - a real-life stuntman - on one of the screens pauses every now and then, as if commanded by an inner voice to question his actions, we see how the same man performs absurd stunts on the other screen, which develop unexpectedly and with full force out of the motion sequence of his day-to-day actions. While shaving, he suddenly takes a running leap through the mirror, he uses his broom to rehearse a breathtaking martial arts scene, clearing up he suddenly throws himself into his book-shelf, or he crashes through the ceiling at the beginning of the scene, only to land on the couch with the opened newspaper in his hands. Once the apartment on one screen is completely devastated, the identical actors (the two scenes will be shot consecutively) exchange the mirrored sides. One starts to clear up the chaos on one side, while the other starts to wreck the intact apartment on the other. All characters in the Trilogy of Failure are caught in a kind of Sisyphus-ritual. Like Sisyphus, our protagonists submit to mindless activities, thereby challenging our own lives and the absurdity of our daily actions. Political and social rituals, culture and religion serve to regulate chaos and do their best to keep us in good spirits. Most of all, they serve to divert us from the one question which has only a very banal answer: Why do we exist? - Oh, we're nothing but a freak of nature.

*1965 Munich, Germany | Living and working in Berlin, Germany