Breed 2007 (videostill)

 

Page 18

The Breed is a video of 17 minutes, without any dialogues or any voice-over. The camera motion and the filmic tension keep going in the association between images, characters, animals and places. A series of happenings succeeds, through suspenses and crescendo. Happenings created by the panting and smoking of men, by the grunts, by the flickers that shake slightly the spectator. The video is focused on a swine-breeding and a slaughter-house. Scenes are merely nocturnal like the dark light due to the geographical position of Iceland, where the video was shotted and where the artist is from. Pig faces hauntingly recur: breathing, mutilated, seasoned before consumption, cooked inside a macabre pot. The same happens with human faces: one man smoking with a nervous and cynical look; other one is clealry breathless, streaming with perspiration and half-face plastered, as if he has suffered a scar or a trauma about which we're ignoring the cause.

Scenes are overlapped, connected by a wealth of devices coming from a cultured and experimental cinema technique of montage: sound anticipation, double exposure, associative and syncopated montage.

Thanks to its direction, the video has a magnetic, inexorable tension although its absence of a plot or any extraordinary event. The video rivets us to its flow since the beginning by engrossing our attention from a still, a slow motion, on a carpet until its end, its interruption when the executioner – bolted in his white and hygienic mask, cap and gown- makes oscillating the chopped off head of the animal in the dark. Between the beginning and the end, there's the incomprehensible cycle of nursing and -then- slaughtering.

 

Page 39

The images could compensate for the absence of any diegesis. The lack of a strict grammar, of any encoding and univocal syntax for the images, it qualifies them for coveying metaphorically, according to a plurality of figures of speech, with an unheard-of freedom.

The scenes of the video prepare us for a climax. The swines are carried on a tipper, during a trip foreboding their misfortune. They sniff at each other, they flounder during this claustrophobic deportation while the film overlaps these scenes with the ones shotted by a camera in motion on the dirt road. This apparently disjointed overlap of scenes broadens the rhythm of the film, its tension and fiction. The breath of the animals beats according the progressing camion; the camera's close-up is narrow like their fate. The animals try to move but they're collared, while the impassive camion is pushing its way. The climax is reached when the scene becomes a metaphor and an ellipsis: a burning tyre is rolling along a road in the snow. Is it a wreckage of an accident? The symbol of an end? The viewer doesn't know the answer, but there's finally a relaxation. After so much tension, the spectator has the feeling that a liberating act has just happened, whether it was tragic or expiatory.

 

Denis Viva, Palinsesti 2010