Alexander Brandt

12 Bodies 12 Memories (2004, 12 channel video installation)

12 stories. Each tells the saddest memory of one person among 12.
12 people. Each interprets the saddest memory of another person amongst those 12.

Memory 1(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Roland Frommel)
I cry about all those tears that never fall. This invisibility is at the center of my sadness. It is intimately related to our memories. One day, I was able to film my mother. I think these images have become my mother. Her representation is her existence, is her future. I can be saddened by other people's grieve as-well as their happiness, through lack or excess. It takes several people... at least two. I am an other. The reflection has no memory. The others have one - due to instruments. Can one translate or interpret the word "sadness"? Like all my other emotions, I gradually build and fill myself with walls. Often the others also constitute themselves of walls, I am a necessary obstacle. My intimate sorrow makes me sad until I can no longer reason. I can have convulsions, spasms. Sometimes the only solution is nonexistence. Death is indeed a solution... it is always there. I live to console myself from life. In this parallel world I am searching for truth - but I cannot attain it. In this search for an echo, I leave a trace. Look at me.

Memory 2(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Beatriz Deandrade)
One day my lover hit me... That fact that my body hurt didn't matter, what really hurt was my heart. How could our relationship have come so far? Nobody knows... and still! My self-confidence suffered badly... Life made no more sense... I couldn't look at my self anymore I just wanted to die. The worst thing was that I couldn't talk to anyone about this. Even worse, I couldn't die. I am sad because I still love this person.

Memory 3(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Liu Xu Li)
For a long period of time, I was very depressed. I am not sure, if the absence of reality - a loss that could have provoked sadness - was the root or rather, the consequence of my depression. Anyhow, I experienced this depression as an inability to grieve. If any tragedy, any catastrophe, had taken place by my side, no matter how horrific, probably my reaction would have been rather pleased. Satisfied to see that this reality which couldn't make me cry, was at least erased. In the end, only sad events would have given me some form of pleasure. This is the peak of sadness.

Memory 4(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Myriam Suriam)
The saddest experience I've lived through is related to my decision to leave the country. At that time, my parents brought me all the way to the airport, and during this entire trip I was calm, without any emotion. But when I got on the plane and sat down in my seat, I looked through the window and I saw them standing there, mum and dad waving their hands good-bye. And all of a sudden I felt like strangled. "What am I doing... I want to get out of here!" My heart broke and the tears overwhelmed me. I cried non-stop for three hours... It was like being tortured... The most bitter of sensations

Memory 5(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Marie-Noel Diana)
To stay with my boyfriend I had to sever all ties with my family. We'd been together for ten years and I got pregnant, that's when he disappeared and moved to a foreign country. He called and promised me that he would bring me over... that we'd have another child, get papers and be rich. I believed him. So I quit my job and sold everything I had in order to leave my country, I left my child and became an illegal immigrant without any knowledge of the language. But shortly after I arrived in that foreign country, I found out he was with another woman. She was a student and I just couldn't compare to her. A week later he gave me something like 80 euros and left me. For weeks all I did was cry - I just wanted to die. I was restless, I lived and worked, hiding all the time. Back home my sister is taking care of our child. I send her money. He doesn't. After one year, I decided to go and see him, but he denied even knowing me. In front of everyone he just pretended he'd never seen me in his entire life... Hours later I cut my wrists open. So - I am still alive and I live from day to day. My folks back home still believe, I am living here in love's heaven. I will never tell them the truth. I stopped believing in anything.

Memory 6(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Anne-Magreet Hoening)
The saddest moment in my life was, without a doubt, the moment when I realized that my first love, who of course at the time represented "perfect love" and so on..., wasn't worth anything anymore. Actually, we had been going through a rather difficult crisis for some time, as that happens... but there was one particular moment, when everything became clear. This person, whom I loved like I had never loved anyone, became rotten in my eyes. There he was, shivering hands on the table, and me in front of him, I felt disgusted. He lied, yes I knew he lied and I told him that I knew the truth about this deplorable betrayal... But he continued to play the game, he wouldn't let the curtain fall. He thought he'd be able to hold on to me by putting on the face of an unhappy angel. He was wading in his lies, something so sick, that he became himself a dirty lie - truly despicable! It was this pitiful face of unbearable sadness, that stays with me. And that was it... I had to leave him. It was too small, too coward. He'd become pathetic. The world fell apart. And with him went all the faith I had in love, trust and honesty. There was some kind of truth that was good for nothing other than the trash, to be forgotten, to be hidden away... and later, to be reconstructed.
Memory 7(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Mohamed Ali Fares)
I think we met too early - too young. This was ten years ago, it was a magical encounter. A love-story. I never really lived anything like it. Neither before, nor after. It lasted several years. We moved in together. We were very happy. Up until the day when we began to feel a little dull. I was feeling curious for something else, longing to know what it felt like not to be in a couple. I wanted to try to be on my own again. But without really leaving her. So, we decided to make some kind of a pause. We promised each other not to go away too far. It was like taking a stroll on your own, which wasn't too scary, because each one knew that we'd come back again. We've been walking like this for a couple of years. Until the day that I realized, that more than anything in the world, I wanted to come back. I felt this crazy urge to go back to this premature thing that I was finally ready for. I really wanted to go back. But it was too late. She couldn't or was not willing to wait for me.

Memory 8(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Eric Baudelaire)
The absence of faith makes me nihilistic. Since childhood, I didn't believe in the good in man and his/her evolution... This pessimism made me suspicious. As a kid, when I played on my own, I imagined myself living far away from men, with a bunch of animals and little kids in autarky, in a pretty forest. I imagined having a lover, who would live far away (which suited me) and who would always call at the right time! Ten years old, I saw myself as a "motorcycle-girl" already divorced with short hair and leather trousers - very "tough chick", but always alone. I found refuge in the arts. I isolated myself in the atelier, and there, the weight of solitude began to crush me, and I slid, little by little, into depression. Today I still have a real problem with confidence... it destroys everything - and me with it. I am afraid, and with every day this fear is more and more present and hits harder. Those few moments that I share with friends and family are like tiny buoys that help me to not let sadness take me. My idealism makes me uncompromising towards the world and myself... I imagine myself to be Atlas.

Memory 9(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Fabrice Guyot)
The saddest event in my life, was the burial of my grandfather, who died two days after my arrival in my parents' native country. What normally should have been a vacation, turned into a return to my roots. I discovered a culture with its customs and traditions. The saddest part was not losing my grandfather, who I didn't even know, but what I experienced when I saw my father cry for the first time. Devastated and helpless, I saw him crippled. This event brought us intimately closer, my father and me.

Memory 10(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Yang Qing Qing)
I remember September 14. My neighborhood had been closed down for three days already. It was like living in a desert city, haunted by emergency vehicule exits, dust and chemical stench. My friends and I, we stuck together, stayed inside mostly, listening to silence one minute, and hurling sirens the next, trying to smile and be stronger than all that crap, almost wondering if it was ok to smile. Anyway, after three days, we decided to go for coffee on second avenue. It was a really warm night. I ordered this huge chocolate malted milkshake. I needed something sweet. And at some point, the wind turned. I was playing with my plastic straw, and suddenly I felt my insides chill. Something was wrong. Really wrong. The whole neighborhood gave in to a massive cooking smell. I felt like some huge burning liquid was filling my brain, my eyes, and I just sobbed. The avenue reeked, it had turned into a giant human barbecue. And I realized clearly that, close, there were people being buried and burnt alive. I remembered reading somewhere that cooked human flesh smelled like pork chops or something. And I just cried in my malted chocolate.

Memory 11(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Line Kozlowski)
I was sitting in front of the TV... it was ten to eight, and the Little Bear show had just begun. I was happy. Little Bear was strolling through the forest, everything went really well. It was the adventure of the day. At some point - Little Bear fell into a hunter's trap. A big and deep hole, which he couldn't get out of... He tried to escape many times, but always in vain. After a while, he remained on the ground and wept. Then all of a sudden the show finished. The announcer said that the adventure of Little Bear will be continued tomorrow evening at the same hour and wished us "Good night little boys and girls". I didn't sleep all night. The idea that Little Bear would have to spend the night in this hole until tomorrow evening was too horrible. My mother tried to reassure me that this was just TV, but to no avail. From time to time, I ask myself if Little Bear is finally out of his hole.

Memory 12(donated by one among the twelve, interpreted by Stefan Nikolaev)
When they lifted the glass plate, which had kept her in the cold for the last three days and which had separated her from us, she suddenly entered into our reality. Tiny water drops covered her face. In turn, we kissed her and some cries could be heard in this terrible and heavy silence of what unfolded in front of our eyes. They started by welding a first metal cover
checked that it was closed tightly... then came a second cover in wood. It was unthinkable... To see her disappear, just like that, so quickly, so helpless, and to never come back again.