Critics’ Picks

Installation view, 2005.

Basel

Marco Poloni

Haus für elektronische Künste
Oslostrasse 10
October 21–November 20, 2005

In Michelangelo Antonioni's 1975 film The Passenger, the reporter David Locke, after having failed on a professional mission in the North African desert, steals the identity of a man who has just died, suddenly, in the next hotel room. For his installation The Desert Room, 2005, Geneva- and Chicago-based artist Marco Poloni recreated, to scale, the shabby hotel room in which the identity theft took place—from the open suitcases to the cockroaches on the wall. But instead of the journalist's tape recorder, an open laptop rests on the table, and its screen betrays the fact that the room is being monitored, apparently in real time. As the viewer is invited to study the surveillance image, he notices one key element is missing: himself. Both Antonioni and Poloni simultaneously use and question the role of the camera as witness and creator of truth. On the search for an explanation of the missing representation, the viewer eventually discovers a model of the same room, where the actual surveillance takes place via a tiny, rotating camera. As in his previous multimedia installations and photographic series, Poloni wittily plays upon the notion of surveillance and counter-surveillance by confusing reality with its reproduced image, forcing us to “watch ourselves watching.”