From the catalogue: “The Second”, Time Based Art From the Netherlands


  Sacrifice (1994)


In Sacrifice a mouth is being filled up with water. On the floor stands a small glass show case, containing a minuscule black-and-white monitor whose screen is not directed forward but straight upward’’ so that the viewer looks onto it from above. Two lenses are placed above the monitor, which enlarge or distort the video image, depending on the viewer position. What you see is a seamless image loop of an open mouth, filmed from above, and surrounded by water. First you see the water rising slowly, then the mouth filling up until it is completely immersed and subsequently the water subsiding., but the mouth remaining filled. Eventually, the pharynx collapses and the mouth is empty again. These four phases are repeated ad infinitum and. at the appropriate moments, are accompanied by soft swallowing sounds coming from a small loudspeaker at the bottom of the showcase.

Behind the showcase, on the wall, there is a large black-and-white photo showing what must have been the set where the video images were recorded. The viewer sees a man, the artist, lying naked in a grimy, dilapidated bathtub, his face almost completely under water. A microphone hangs above his open mouth, and the camera and accessories are suspended above the bath.

Together with the video, the photo represents the process and the result: the artist drinking up the bathtub. It seems to be a resigned, stoical immersion in water, in which it is the elevated and passive position, which you as viewer are forced to assume by the form of the installation, that makes this spectacle so disconcerting. The action of the lenses enhances the feeling that you are spying on the implementation of an intimate and mysterious process, a ceremony which you cannot get a grip on. Its effect is bewildering and alienating, rather than clarifying and elucidating. What is this ritual, sacrifice or self-sacrifice, and in whose honour, that we, the viewers, are the passive witnesses to in Sacrifice?


Text fragment from catalogue text ‘Shared Moments’, 2002:


Bogers’ video works are also always developed out of their spatial and formal appearance.  Already in his early video sculptures like “Portret,” “Fingers,” or “Sacrifice,” he is not satisfied with commercial monitors that are placed on sockets.  Instead, he designs his own casings and fittings.  For “Fingers,” “Portret,” and “Sacrifice” he made glass showcases in which he hung little black and white monitors tucked in unembellished cases.  In “Fingers” two monitors are mounted at the end of a u-shaped case which contains a “magnet.”  The video images show circularly arranged fingertips which move synchronously in symmetric formations in front of black background.  Sometimes they look at you like eyes as they twist the position of the observer.  In “Portret” and “Sacrifice” additional magnifying glasses were mounted which enable us to see the video images.  Bogers is playing here with the presence and the absence, the offering and the taking away of the picture.  While the little monitors constrict the visibility of the video image, this “impairment” is only seemingly offset by the fortified lenses, for the view of the observer is broken repeatedly by the different glass surfaces – lens, showcase, monitor – and depending on the observer’s position, the video image repeatedly impends to dissolve.  In “Portret” and “Sacrifice” the observer has to move very closely to the showcases in order to be able to see the images.  Bogers quasi forces the observer to take the posture of a cameraman or artist who wants to focus his object through the viewfinder.  “Portret,” however, shows Peter Bogers’ own face; thus he could not stand behind the camera.  Here the positions of artist, model and observer are shifted.  “Portret” shows the horizontal profile of the artist.  A tube leads from his mouth directly to his right eye into which saliva is permanently seeping.  This image suggests the absurd presumption of an organic closed circuit.  With the saliva seeping from the mouth through the eye directly to the mouth again, it alludes to the head as an empty “Black Box.”  In a transmission performance between human being and machine, Bogers seems to make fun of the naïve notion that technological equipment can reproduce reality one-to-one.  He does that by prodding the observer directly to the distorting filter.  Despite all this transparency of “Portret,” what happens behind the cap of the technological device remains hidden.  Would not a look into the intestines of a machine be as unsatisfactory as a look into the inside of a body where no one has ever found a “soul”?  Thus Peter Bogers is more concerned with optical filters, those filters close to the surfaces of the visible that place themselves like a veil in front of the eyes, just as if saliva were permanently seeping inside.


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