Our mission is to distribute and archive works of time-based art. Each issue highlights artists working in new or experimental media, whose works are best documented in video or sound.

The Swirl

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The Swirl
15:06
video
with commentary by Edward Sanderson

The Swirl is a work that is as innocuous as it is brutal. In spite of its compositional simplicity and optical beauty, it is difficult to look at. The gaze is directed into the open drum of a washing machine that is loadable from above. In an uncut shot, we observe a 15-minute wash cycle. However, in the drum there are not brightly colored pieces of clothing, but six goldfish. The pointlessness of the torment and the helplessness of the tormented can be read as a metaphor for torture. But it may also be understood as social criticism and a cynical commentary upon the artist’s existence, if one takes into consideration that the fish functions as a symbol for prosperity within Chinese culture. During the rapid transition from authoritarian communism to untrammeled capitalism, independence and distance from the mechanisms of the system continue to be difficult. Artists tell us of this experience, not least of all fostered by the recent boom of contemporary Chinese art in the West.

Dorothée Brill