If you have been to MoMA’s exhibition The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook, you might have encountered Jules Spinatsch’s 2003 installation entitled, “Panorama: World Economic Forum, Davos 2003. Camera A, Congress-Center North and Middle Entry, 2176 Still Shots, 24.01.03, 06h35-09h30, Hotspots: World Economic Forum, Davos. Hotspot A4.1, promenade; Hotspot A1.1, north and middle entry; Hotspot A2/3/5/6.1, parking, congress hotel, carlton, congress center.” As the lengthy title suggests, this installation relates specifically to a particular event and a series of locations. The wall label in the gallery further elaborates on this by noting; “This installation documents the preparations for the January 2003 World Economic Forum, in which the entire valley of Davos, Switzerland, was temporarily transformed into a high-security zone. In the period leading up to the forum, Spinatsch installed three remote-controlled cameras outside different buildings. One was programmed to record up to 2,500 images over three hours.”
On Wednesday, January 23 as part of our Roving Conversation series, Museum Educator Agnes Berecz dove into this work and share a few relevant resources. Expanding upon the insights from the wall label, Agnes had the above diagram on hand to assess the installation of the cameras, noting that camera A was the one that captured images. As an additional layer relating to the work’s content, Agnes also presented the following quote from George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four as a way to think further about the work; “There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.(…) You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
Sometimes all it takes is a few simple references to crack open the interpretation of an artwork and prompt a fulfilling and thought-provoking encounter. What do you think: might the above pieces of information change the way you think about the work?