Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari once described Kafka’s writing as ‘setting up a minor practice of major language from within’, characterised ‘by dryness and sobriety, a willed poverty’. In recent videos, Mexican artist Pablo Sigg turns similar methods, rather appropriately, against 1973 horror classic The Exorcist. Hollywood has long served as ripe terrain for artists such as Douglas Gordon, Pierre Bismuth and Pierre Huyghe; Sigg departs from their poststructuralist strategies, however, to focus on the intensities and ‘hollow territories’ of cinema. Training his handheld camera on a wall projection, for example, Sigg isolates the unpeopled passages of the exorcism scene – with domesticating effect (What an Excellent Day for an Exorcism, 2010). The vastly different form of Anemic Cinema (2008) suggests the plural horizons of the ‘minor’: the video follows from its title, muting and stripping the Exorcist footage to within an inch of its index.
Shifting from the politics of the image to the politics of perception, Sigg’s work unsettles and ‘endangers’ the conventional viewing experience, aiming no less, the artist writes, than to clear ground for ‘utopic space… capable of replacing the world’. Cinema’s ‘hollow territories’ can thus be taken to potentiate new topographies by concentrating image and medium, the embodied and the psychical. No territory is more exemplary, in this regard, than that of the hypnotic: Sigg has twice reenacted the trance scene from The Exorcist, when the hypnotised subject was asked to name what it saw. Luc Tuymans responded to the prompt, in Sigg’s 134 Exhibits, (2009–10), with a 42-minute rollcall of his paintings, issuing from that ‘someplace else’ between recollection and proposition – a utopian dimension that, through Sigg, we can come to perceive as our own.
This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue.