Tête-à-tête, 2019, Two-channel video installation, audio, two bound conversation chairs
This video installation consists of a two-channel video on opposite walls. The videos, one a front view and the other a back view of the same scene, are of 52 people who were paired with a stranger to engage in a dialogue about their experience of loneliness.
I attempt to cultivate a participatory and affective element through the presence of two conversation chairs (tête-à-tête). By asking only two viewers at a time to sit in the same chairs that are present in the video, is to ask them to connect with the narratives on screen and, in the gaps of narrative (when there is a blank turquoise screen), to consider echoing the experience on-screen with the person sitting next to them. The viewer’s participation in this work is minimal and subtle. It is about the physical proximity to the person next to them (their bodies are literally touching, shoulder-to-shoulder), being alone in the room together (only two people at a time can enter the darkened room), and about engaging with the stories of loneliness that transpire before them.
This work formed part of my Masters (MAFA Wits) exhibition in April 2019 at the Johannesburg Art Gallery.
A tour of the video installation in the context of the exhibition:
The full video, side by side, back and front: