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SEEING THE SCENE: KARL JOHNSON WITH “BAPTISM OF SOLITUDE,” A PROJECT FOR ARTFORUM

In the autumn of 1989 a posse of technicians occupied the cliff district of Tangier. Leather-colored tents were erected on the beach. Wiring was dragged through the door of a cavernous house as low and chalky as the others around it. Utilities and trucks collected heat just beyond the arch that crowns the Casbah. The path leading down from it, bordered on one side by the crumbling facades and on the other by a perilous drop to the sea below, was virtually off-limits to the usual straggler.

Instead of fabricating an earthy claustrophobic chamber with milky-green walls in a film studio, and filling it with slow-moving figures in djellabas, the scene was fabricated on location. The intention was to capture the “real” North Africa, and yet (strangely or typically enough), Morocco celebrates an ensemble of suggestions and impressions that ignores the so-called authentic. Always turning itself

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