JENNIFER BAUMEISTER

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DEATH ROW

Most of the industrial nations have abolished death penalty. But even though the countries which still carry out executions hardly report on it,  there is almost everyday a person who is sentenced to death and people who are executed in one of the parts of this world.
There are still  37 states  with death rows in the USA, where at the moment approximately 3370 inmates serve a sentence - after a not necessarily fair trial
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Video Clip Link

 

 

There is a TV and a telephone.
On TV the audience can see a video loop (length of the clip 1:28:58).


In our media flooded world - in the days of reality TV- we see a lot of unknown faces. We see them briefly and forget them. We might not see them as human beings it is probably more likely that we see them as abstract and creatures from another world.

A flood of inmates' pictures is what the audience watches on this screen, too. Yet here the viewer is addressed to in a closer manner: the telephone starts ringing right in front of them and a person inside (TV) waits for the answer. The ringing stops and the viewer watches another person being executed and fading away.

The telephone and the TV indicate two different rooms/ worlds.
The telephone is outside. It is in our world. It resembles the contact to the outer world: to a private visitor or the states' authority.
The TV is the inner world the medium to look into the death row. It is both: the visitor's cabin and the execution chamber.

The video:
1. A fast succession of death row inmates' pictures
2. One frame becomes as a still image
3. The telephone in the outside world starts ringing - and the hanging up is audible.
4. The prisoner turns red, yellow and green and eventually melts.
5. We see another fast succession of the inmates
6. Another still of a prisoner
7. And so on

The lottery style of the prisoners' still image selection after a quick succession of frames, not only hints at the sometimes very suspicious trials yet makes the audience take a closer look at the individual, too. The ringing of the real telephone and the temporary halt of the inmate reaches further towards the viewer. And then the person changes his colour following Fred A. Leuchters instructions for using his lethal injection machine:
red > readiness
yellow > injecting in progress
green > injection/ execution completed successfully
Like in a videogame the person is disappearing. Unreal. Yet it is a true person.

 

Safehouse Arts Space Gallery, Belfast:

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 Coop GALLERY, Berlin:

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K-Salon, Berlin:

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