Interview / MAP 2007

MM: The Allegory of the Cock is a film in which a man tells a tall story about a blind man to another man. In the following scene, the same story is repeated, but told by two other men. Every time the story is told, it changes slightly. How did you come up with the idea for this film?

LC: I made this story up in a conversation with a taxi driver a few years ago, and ever since then it has haunted me. But the truth is, at that time, I didn't understand why it seemed so important. The whole process was like one of those movies where you see the last scene first, and then slowly have to follow the events that led up to it. Eventually, I made a connection between the story and an earlier piece entitled Minor Field Study. Both this story and Minor Field Study depict a kind of brutal translation, which I associate with the interdisciplinary expression "frame of reference". It refers to a provided set of axes, or a particular perspective from which the universe is observed, much like the experience of Plato's cavemen. I find it interesting that "frame of reference" is used in both physics and anthropology which also make it an expression that has been translated from one "frame of reference" into another. Like a chinese box... but the truth is I didn't see the parallels between my story and Plato's Allegory of the Cave, until I finally wrote the story down as a dialogue and gave it a title.

MM: The Allegory of the Cock was filmed in Ethiopia in Amharinja, and then dubbed into Swedish. What is the function of the dubbing?

LC: I am fascinated by dubbing. The first time I saw Bruce Willis, in a dubbed film, seduce a woman in Italian, I had an epiphany, a physical sensation of language and speech. It's difficult to describe really. Dubbing has a way of exposing, in my mind, two false dichotomies; culture/nature and truth/fiction. When Bruce said; - ", bella ragazza!" in a certain way, sexuality itself was translated, as opposed to words that simply referred to it. I have often worked with narrative structures in ways which have made processes of interpretation and translation visible. The element of dubbing in The Allegory of the Cock works in a similar way, and is an essential part of the piece. In a way, it is also my own private celebration of Italian sexuality... (laugh)

MM: There is also a time gap, a shift between the speaker and the listener?

LC: I think of the slightly unsynchronised feedback as a kind of presence marked by absence. I am "minding the gaps". It's a very dry assertion in a way, a deconstruction of the dialogue.

MM: It brings to mind how there are often gaps in dialogues. We speak to one another, but we still exist within our own worlds. The answer does not always respond to the question. In that way, the gap in time between the speaker and the listener is realistic. The title of the piece alludes to Plato's allegory about the cave, which refers to, among other things, realism (mimesis).

LC: Yes, in a way, it's all about perception and levels of reality. The things that happened when we filmed, or when the voices where recorded, what's up there on the screen, and what's within the viewer... The narrative is "captured" by the way in which our ability to think and speak are dependant upon forms or ideas. I guess Plato's implications are different, but I, for example, find it exciting to think about the unconscious and more virtual flows of information between people or objects. Unconscious telepathy. In fact, it is strange that there's no technology for sale around it yet. Maybe that will be the next thing from NASA after the internet.

MM: You sent a quote to me about the Allegory of the Cave: "... an image of ignorant humanity, trapped in the depths and not even aware of its own limited perspective."

LC: I like that quote. It is dark, and it is "goth". I think of a friend of mine who is a professor in religious history at the Addis Ababa University. He used to talk about the human being as a deficient animal, and he would become very passionate about finding proof of this theory. He says; "A dog from Tokyo meets a dog from London. Do they have any problem communicating? No! But human beings can only make themselves understood with great difficulties. The female body is not made for childbirth. Babies are too big for their anatomy! Women risk an almost 50% chance of dying while giving birth, and the male does not even know exactly when a female is fertile! Tell me, what other animal has to wash in order not to die from a disease caused by bacteria?" And so on... His theory is that although some claim to be created in the image of a perfect God, among the creatures of this planet, we are the least adapted to our environment. The irony, of course, is that our seemingly perfect details, such as the physiognomy of the human eye, is often used as proof of a higher intelligence, power, and purpose.

MM: Your work is often described with words such as post colonial. Many consider your work to deal with cultural differences. However, as I see it, they certainly reference other cultures, but it is actually your method that is interesting. You place phenomena side by side, and often, when viewing your work, I make an observation that I, only a few moments later, must reconsider. It is as though you initiate a process that continues within the viewer.

LC: I like that. It works in almost the same way for me. The next time someone asks me about The Allegory of the Cock I'll probably tell them another story...

Interview by Magdalena Malm, Mobile Art Production