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Stefan Sulzer (Switzerland)

Still from Camp David, Video installation with 14 monitors, 2007/08

In Stefan Sulzer’s Camp David, the viewer is presented with a stack of ten monitors running simultaneous footage of North American rural landscapes: rivers cascading through the snow, a log cabin, a deserted pine wood, all accompanied by the ambient sound of the locations. At first glance Camp David seems to echo our modern obsession with surveillance, and yet the chorus of rushing water, rustling tree branches, a flag creaking against its moorings, together create a disorientating ensemble of sound. A critique of film as entertainment, Camp David suggests the drama associated with a globally recognized venue, but soon becomes a meditation on place that holds the viewer captive with the lure of anticipation. As the title implies, the footage references Camp David, the military secure mountain retreat of US presidents. A mythical place almost without visual documentation, Camp David lends itself to virtual representation. Through this association, and by displacing and dislocating time and location, Sulzer subtly unpicks our political relationship with photography and examines the mediated representation of reality.

Camp David was filmed in the winter of 2007 in the Catskill Mountains, north of New York City, USA:

“The idea for Camp David started out of a political interest in the events that were happening there during the Carter and Clinton eras. A few years ago I watched a documentary about the meeting between Clinton, Arafat and Barak, which aroused my interest. I was intrigued by the history of this place with its smart huts amongst the trees. I soon became aware that there were almost no pictures available from Camp David, which is rather unusual in an age where every piece of news needs visual stimuli in order to prove the accuracy of the information. Knowing that it would be impossible to film in the actual place and interested in the virtual quality of it, I decided to film all my footage in the Catskill Mountains, north of New York.“

Stefan Sulzer is a Swiss born conceptual artist. His work explores the interstice between fiction and reality through the process of investigating historical sources and creating dialogue by engaging actors to construct stories. Interested in the notion of the unspectacular, he considers overlooked and mundane details of our everyday life, particularly in reference to the potential of what the zeitgeist might be if historical facts were slightly different from how they appear to be. Sulzer’s work is idea-based and features a variety of media, such as drawing, video, sculpture, photography and public intervention.

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