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She crosses the threshold of the room full of expectations: soft light. Skips the wall text on her right hand side: read in advance on the website. And starts wandering around: slowly.

First stop; a vertical screen with a cut off head jumping on the steps of a staircase to the rhythm of background music, apparently coming from a far corner: not much blood. Labels look like male genitals and there is a story told on three boards. It resembles a personal diary, with notes, drawings, and weird comments: a lot of mysterious happenings.

Second stop; reading takes time.

Third stop; a video in the darkness. Dave would be hot, if only he were not that fucked up. Or perhaps this is what makes him interesting. He has self-made ink tattoos on some random spots of his naked body, mainly insulting and buzzing words. He could be a war prisoner. But, no… he actually drinks way too much for being a prisoner. So, yes, he definitely is a prisoner. He must watch a lot of porn. Well, who doesn’t? He is now watching himself through a hole. He is then showing himself from the same hole. His lips move un-synchronically to the words he says. And he sings sad songs. She feels sorry for him, it’s a pain. He’s a deflating mannequin.

Fourth stop; a projection in the corridor: oh! This is an identical video. No, it is not. There is the same Dave but the perspective is different. Though, the chant has always the same melody: “’tis woman makes us love, ’tis love that makes us sad. ’tis sadness makes us drink, and drinking makes us mad.”

Fifth stop; Dave’s facial expressions are projected onto a twisted panel. He is trying to say something: he is not able to.

Sixth stop; another video in the darkness. Dave would be hot, if only he were not that fucked up. Or perhaps this is what makes him interesting. He has self-made ink tattoos on some random spots of his naked body, mainly insulting and buzzing words. He could be a war prisoner. But, no… he actually drinks way too much for being a prisoner. So, yes, he definitely is a prisoner. He must watch a lot of porn. Well, who doesn’t? He is now watching himself through a hole. He is then showing himself from the same hole. His lips move un-synchronically to the words he says. And he sings sad songs. The chant has always the same melody: “’tis woman makes us love, ’tis love that makes us sad. ‘tis sadness makes us drink, and drinking makes us mad.” She feels sorry for him, it’s a pain. He’s a deflating mannequin.

Seventh stop; a walk across some other pages of Dave’s diary and his cut off head jumping on the steps of a staircase. There are shreds of skin here and there: ribbons.

Ed Atkins. Installations views, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (11 June – 25 August 2014). Photograph © 2014 READS

I met Dave on a day of July 2014 at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London. Ed Atkins’ Ribbons was installed there in a fully immersive environment mixing video and sound to reassess horror genre and violence, together with the latest production of Computer Generated avatars. There, the liaison between reality and virtuality was challenged and overturned. As a visitor, I was taken into another dimension made of fragments of the same recurring narrative, altered only by the subtle changes of perspective. A dialogue with different media was carried out by the protagonist of the work – i.e. by the work itself – the artist and the audience, who could get repeatedly confronted with a series of unsettling occurrences: trailers-aesthetics’ intervals, overlapping of noises, farts. Spoken and written words engaged in paranoid relationships, based on an extenuating dependency with one another. In a natural progression with Atkins’ previous work, that exhibition was a high witness of the contemporary material culture, investigating phenomena such as addiction to escapism and the obsession with the ideal self.

Today, after almost three months, I found some records in my notepad resuming the impressions I had that day; recollecting my memories, I transcribed Dave’s story.

Miriam La Rosa


Miriam La Rosa (Palermo, 1988) is an independent curator, museologist and writer based in London. In 2010 she graduated in Art History at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Brescia (Italy), and in 2013 she completed a Master in Museology at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam (Netherlands). Between May 2012 and July 2013 Miriam did research and curatorial internships at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In May 2014 she co-founded amaCollective: a curatorial collaboration exploring the notion of Dialogue through performance and performativity. Currently, she is enrolled in the MA Curating the Contemporary at the Whitechapel Gallery and London Metropolitan University.

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