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Archivos Presidente

Joan Leandre
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This film made in 1998 is another of Leandre’s exercises in video montage. The piece is composed of archive images of US educational films, mixed in with other images, which on different occasions and in reference to this same artist, have been called “media interruptions”.

The video starts with a series of illustrations which, in a way and quite enigmatically, seem to give us an idea of what we are going to find further on during the length of the film. We see drawings of planes, aircrafts which for some reason do not manage to stay in the air. During the 14 minutes that this piece lasts, the concept of the accident as an element inherently associated with technology is, in some way or other, always present.

The background music in the first part of the video, weightlessly floating in mid air, is abruptly interrupted to mark the emergence of a bizarre and suggestive image: a medalled man of the military, maybe a general, or a president - who knows? (this might be what the title of the piece is referring to) - addresses us in a dubbed voice without us being able to discern his face, as a spark of light hides it from us. This is a video montage exercise which manages to disavow any legitimacy which the official speech might make a claim for, a speech which originally belongs to another document, and which, after Leandre’s manipulation, we have lost all possibility of hearing or knowing. The voice laid over this image speaks to us of love, of what it is to love ourselves.

The light turns off and the image fades to black. The screen now fills with a series of different takes of aerodynamic models trying out their capacity for staying in the air. We can see that some manage it, and stay in the air for a few seconds, but in the end, and this will be the leitmotif of the video, all of them fail and fall down. At first, gravity treats the models kindly, but it quickly applies its law against them. The accident is confirmed as the only possible horizon. As someone once said, the accident is always there, next to any innovation. When something new is born, a new type of accident is born with it. These are the models’ first flight tests, and Leandre combines them with images of human models learning to walk down a catwalk: learning to walk, learning to fly. And failing at it.

From this moment onwards, we are presented with a series of images showing different attempts at mastering the air space. We see an exhibition of acrobatic parachuting, in which everyone ends up in the ocean, and a series of rockets being sent off into the sky and then breaking in two.

As a conclusion, these President Archives open up a very similar floating space to the one with which the film starts, a space in which a similar music soundtrack accompanies a foreign and bizarre archival image composition, which close the video with the same weird tone with which it started. On this occasion, Leandre composes a monochrome landscape charged with signs which open up the way onto an outside space at the same time that it attempts to stay in it, floating in mid air.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Archivos Presidente
  • Direction: Joan Leandre
  • Production: 1998.
  • Duration: 00:14:30
  • Languages: English - Spanish
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright