Article in “Frieze”, contemporary Art and Culture

Martin Pesch (translated by Michael Robinson)

London, November-December 1997


 ….Ritual 1-2 (1997) by Dutch artist Peter Bogers takes a more spectacular approach. In contrast with many works in the show, which approach the theme oft he body with calm reticence, a ticking wall-clock establishes the tempo in Bogers' space. On one wall you see real-time pictures from various other exhibition areas, or of yourself, caught up in Bogers' video works. On the floor are 12 TV monitors set in a circle. The scenes playing are edited in such a way that each screen shows a violent scene from a feature film and then freezes. This produces an endless sequence of punches and bullet wounds. You stand in the middle and follow them round, or you sit down in front of a smaller video screen and watch loops of action scenes dissolving into each other. Headphones play a soundtrack like a DJ’s set, with shots and blows as the beat. You are aware that Bogers’ sources help shape our image of the body, but it is the only work in the exhibition to make it clear, through the vehemence of it’s manipulation, that this is wrong.

After that, you can rest on E.R.Sontag’s rubber seat, entitled OMO (1996-97), enjoying the vibrations running through your body, until Bogers’ images start to slowly drain out of your brain-unfortunately they will never disappear completely……..




Text from the catalogue: “Short Cuts: Anschlüße an den Körper”

Written by Iris Dressler, Dortmund 1997    Ritual 1&2 

 Ritual 1-2 & 3 is a concentrate of pictures and sounds from fictitious scenes of violence of the kind we get served up daily on/by television. Bogers has isolated the culmination of physical abuse and execution, always the same and unwinding in a matter of seconds, from hundreds of action films and edited them to 13 different video streams.
The installation consists of three scenes running simultaneously in one room. Its central point is an old-fashioned wall clock, the ticking of which gives the beat for the whole ensemble.
Twelve monitors are standing on the floor, screens towards the centre. Film-stills of violence move from right to left across each of those monitors. Only when a still completely covers the screen, the action unwinds for exactly one second - going anticlockwise from monitor to monitor with precisely one second delay. Thus the "action" turns around in a circle - and the viewers walk behind.
Robbed of every content except for that of merciless slaughter the litanies of hunters and hunted finally prove to be nothing but sterile and mechanical stage direction: get set, go and fall. The comic-like sound effects are designed correspondingly and only now and then for a short moment interrupted: the only sound of duration is the ticking of the clock.
On a wall of the room there is a video projection showing live and in rotation the extremely distorted images of three different closed-circuit-cameras. One of them is above the installation, the next in another part of the exhibition, while the third shows the foyer of the museum. Each camera vibrates - in time, by the second.
Directly in front of the video projection a table and two chairs have been placed in the installation, looking as old-fashioned as the clock. There one can see - via monitor and headphones - another audio-visual remix of the action-film
world, interwoven by cross-fades. Here also -and despite the headphones - the ticking of the clock seeps into the sound track of the videos.
Whether "really" positioned in front of the monitors or "virtually" placed on the video screen: voyeuristic and narcissistic pleasure draws the viewer into the course of the installation and at once makes him subject to its rigid rhythm.

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fragment of The mutated body 

Written by Jorinde Seijdel in a Montevideo/TBA publication,1998


...Ritual 1 & 2, which are presented in direct connection with each other, once again confront us with the body, but in a different form from previous works. Ritual 1 consists of an old-fashioned, wooden wall clock and twelve monitors, placed in a circle on the floor, with their screens facing inwards. They show video and audio samples of physical violence from TV films, and are edited according to the strict rhythm of the ticking clock -this work also bears witness to the special way in which Bogers deals with sound. Each second, a flash of violent action can be seen, which, the next second, springs over to the next monitor. Ritual2 is a large video projection with live images originating from three black-and-white cameras installed in various areas of the exhibition building. One of the cameras records the image of the exhibition gallery itself, and therefore also shows the installations and observers. Each second, the images vibrate on the tick of the clock. A table and two chairs are placed in front of the projection screen. On the table, there is a small colour monitor, with two connected headphones. Visitors can sit down and view a constant, rhythmical repetition of violent actions.

The observer standing in the middle of the circle of monitors, witness to a chain of violent, vibrating moments, becomes involved in the performance via the camera, which records and directly transmits his presence. He is no longer an outsider, but what is he then? Intruder, voyeur, or accomplice? But to what? What has landed up in? The violence shows itself formalised and ritualised by the repetitions and lack of context, thus emphasising the passive, inactive, role of the observer. But at the same time, the rhythm of the clock has also annexed his image on the screen: He becomes infected by the same thing that has pervaded the other images, incorporated into the same order. He under-goes a metamorphosis, in spite of himself.

The way in which the various elements of Ritual 1 & 2 overflow into each other, and link the rooms together, makes it difficult to escape from this 'creepy', introverted, atmosphere.


As with Apart and Heaven, Ritual 1 & 2 are governed by different laws of space, time and causality. An alternative reality manifests itself, where the familiar certainties and stories do not apply. Its logic and coherence is not ours, but rather, comes from within, from the objects and images themselves. We become aware that our traditional perception of reality, and of ourselves, is not absolute, but relative. The unity and coherence, the seamlessness between the things and events that we think we see, even in ourselves, perhaps do not exist at all, but serve to maintain our superior place and position. Considered from this traditional position, the effect of Bogers' images is uncomfortable and disconcerting; they condemn us to a condition of solitude. But Bogers does not actually stage an intimidating, morally reprehensible future, nor do his mutated bodies express concern. Rather, by making a different order visible, he enforces a radical turnabout, which undermines our familiar position and challenges us to assume a different identity, to cast a different glance at the world and to reinvent it…


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English Text from the catalogue of the exhibition ‘Force’, Casino Luxembourgh, 09-2002.

Written by Doreet Levitte.


  Peter Bogers’ video installation, Ritual 1, consists of twelve monitors placed in a circle. In precise sequences of one second each the monitors relay, clockwise, scenes of violence taken from films and TV action dramas. The spectator stands in the middle of the circle, in a position similar to the Panopticon’s guard and must submit to the circular movement in order to follow the images’ sequences. This movement disturbs his absolute position of power as an all-seeing entity and forces him to interact with the images, thus submitting himself to their hypnotic attraction.

Bogers orchestrates violence like an opera. He chooses the climatic moments of the aggressive action as seen on the screen, separates it from the narrative it originally belongs to and concentrates on the cathartic moment when aggression reaches its home target. The broken narrative of each video, the fragments that had a coherence while belonging to the cinematic experience, are assembled into a new text, which changes the essential characteristics that were built in the original story. Thus, whether the action was justified or not, moral or revengeful, aesthetic or ugly is of no importance. This spectacle of pistols and blows, blood and wounds zooms towards one target — it shows aggression to be the weakest link in the chain of power and reveals force as a last resource, where real power is subjected to a corrupted version of its potential. Force in Bogers’ video reveals itself to be both the most spectacular yet the least genuine manifestation of power.

Because violence is rendered in precise sequences, as opposed to its chaotic and random features, and since this timing creates order and aesthetics negating the essence of the subject matter, it becomes clear that Bogers has elevated violence to a ritual and has introduced the notion of a mythical time into the set of actions he presents. The very arrangement of a circular time and space corresponds with the idea of time outside the natural order, as characteristic of the duration of a holy sermon. By isolating the actions they become meaningless and enigmatic, as if another meaning was imposed on them for which we lack understanding. In doing so Bogers leads us back to the futility embedded in the aggressive act. While within the context of a story we could have excused it, considering motives and human reaction, violence, when isolated from any context, is always a weak and stupid act.

Ritualised violence is a phenomenon we are familiar with. Ritualisation in matters of aggressions has the purpose of giving meaning and decorum to atrocities of all kinds. Moreover, the very aesthetics of virility this ritualisation takes on covers the weakness suggested by acts of aggression. Bogers manipulates the ritualistic element to serve his ends and exposes both power and its celebrations to be the icons of a value they are supposed to negate.

The sound and light effects that go with each act in the video are like a physical attack on the onlooker. A double assault is created: one inherent to the image itself, the other produced through its presentation, i.e. while the images tell the story of the attack, they repeat it symbolically by the nature of their transformation.




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