Artist’s Statement: What is the Word is my tribute to Samuel Beckett, a transgressor and artist whose works for television, plays and poems are full of mystery and ambiguity. Beckett has been a very important influence in my videos, especially the work he directed for television (Nacht und Träume, Quad I+II are favorites) and I revisit them frequently thanks to YouTube.
What is the Word is the last poem Beckett wrote before he passed away. The poem was written to his friend Joseph Chaikin, theater director and author, who had suffered a stroke and lost his ability to speak. In this piece, I investigate the issue of the loss of language and memory and the isolation around it. My father suffered from dementia, which made him lose his memory, but he sometimes remembered clearly persons and situations from his childhood.
I had a lot of ideas about how to visually approach the poem, but in the end the idea of fragmentation was the guide. I wanted to use frames in which we could see parts of close ups of the actor’s eyes, mouth or general images: A visual transposition of the verses of the poem, which are also fragmented and broken. I worked with actor Sergio Cabello, and we talked a lot about our experiences with people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The sound for this piece is by Alberto Ayuso (Four Hands Project). I was inspired by the audio of the film The Turin Horse (2011) by the great Hungarian director Béla Tarr. This film impressed me deeply. With almost no dialogue, it has a notable sound of the wind throughout, and that felt right for what I was trying to do visually.