text by montevideo

Glamour and kitsch are the main components of the Eurovision Song Contest, but underneath this thick layer of make-up we also recognize a 1950s interpretation of the 'European idea'. The festival is optimistic and colourful, and, particularly in the last few years, a metaphor for the fact that Europe is becoming 'larger and larger'. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, the organization lost no time in inviting the countries behind the former Iron Curtain to join in the merry-go-round.

Wallace's eurovision shows the entries from four countries (Russia, Sweden, France, and Germany), but not in the way they were seen in millions of homes. The images have been manipulated by the tools that computer and video art have at their disposal: the screen has been subdivided into frames that show different things at the same time and in succession. They emphasize the astonishing uniformity that the various countries display in their quest for the magic formula with which to win the song contest.

Wallace alternates this with images from other cultural and technological manifestations from the same four countries, in particular from the 1950s and 1960s. She sketches cultural-historical lines that connect various highlights, such as mediaeval icon art, the romantic exoticism of Ingres, Nouvelle-Vague films, Soviet space travel, airport architecture, and much, much more. In a fragment from Bergman's film The Seventh Seal, the artist answers the question as to why he is painting the Dance with Death, with the words: "I have to live - at least until the plague gets me". Images of an ascending escalator precede the next Eurovision performance; this time it is Sweden. Dressed as Red Indians, they are singing the number When Spirits Are Calling My Name. Bergman's film character continues: "Are they serious? Is that food for modern people?"

(Netherlands Media Art Institute: Jaap Vinken, Martine van Kampen)


DISTRIBUTOR: Netherlands Media Art Institute, Montevideo/Time Based Arts

CONTACT: Theus Zwakhals