By Mónica Delgado
In the latest edition of (S8) Mostra de Cinema Periférico, inside the “Desbordamientos” (Overflows) sections, which contains different performances through live projections, a couple of works of Ojoboca (“Eyemouth”) were presented, a short film and a performance. Ojoboca, formed by Anja Dornieden and Juan David Gonzáles Monroy, based in Berlin, is characterized for the configuration of a fictional world around their films and performances, which provides a rarefied ambiance, which evokes many of the production and exhibition mechanisms of cinema from the nostalgia of phantasmagoria.
The two actions of Ojoboca in (S8) were physical experiences. The tales inside and out of their films –in the case of Comfort Stations (2018) consisted in some instructions to watch the film, while in the performance The Hot & The Cold (2018) a voice over which proposed a way of seeing was condensed. These two events marked the session’s atmosphere, which was, as indicated in the showcase catalog, of a “séance-like” character. This means that the fascination for the forms of hypnosis and the paranormal are clear marks of the style of this couple of artists and filmmakers, who based the core of their works in their capability for fables, mixed with meta-cinematographic styles, which translate us to times of fairs and the first pre-cinematographic experiences.
Comfort Stations is an incursion to micro-nature. Realized in an impeccable 16mm texture, it shows through a series of contemplative shots, edited through the rhythm of a suggestive and abrupt song, a close universe of snails, batrachian and other viscous fauna, but also of flora and human skin in constant shine and exaltation. The music becomes a mantra which designs a rarefied climate, which induces the spectator to a paused and abstraction-prone rhythm of oneiric or nightmarish games. Very close shots that slowly enclose the spectator in this apparently bizarre nature, whose montage transforms into a free association of textures and bodies in a state of a slow calmness.
Before the projection, the Ojoboca read some indications, clarifying that this was a film found in an old archive of Berlin, and that they only reedited it and added the credits at the end. However, it was obvious that this was an artifice, of a game of narrations based in “being and appearing”. Then they read some instructions with lines like this one: “feel free to participate, but remember to take these experiences with the caution they deserve. We do not take any responsibility for the psychological difficulties, traumas or pains that are derived from the employment of this technique”. Thus, they turned the double session into a possibility for psychoanalytical catharsis, even.
This kind of resource which appeals to the spectator’s psyche reminds me of the experiments of Gil J. Wolman, especially to his L’Anticoncept (1951) and its “discrepant montage”, especially in the irruption of the narrative, with texts that can be heard throughout the projection (something which was more tangible in the next performance of Ojoboca). It also reminds us of the effects that this film achieved in the French environment of those years, provoking its censorship and increasing the belief that the film enclosed occult messages, crypto-messages which seek to secretly influence the spectator. And there’s something of that in Ojoboca’s cinema.
The thirty minutes of The Hot & The Cold gave life to another kind of fable. The Ojoboca made a character appear, the professor I.B.D. Naheseer, who elaborated a spectacle of phantasmagoria through the figure of the Tardigrade, a microscopic animal, an extreme metaphor of the relation of life and death. In the scene, the 3D creates the illusion of a divided world, between the perception of the right eye (the hot) and the left eye (the cold). The result reminiscent of what might have been one of the first scientific shows of phantasmagoria in the XIX century. Thus, the Ojoboca turned us in a central part of this experiment, without fearing to include a song by Juaneco y su combo, as a transit or bridge between centuries and its sensibilities.