AudioDiary,    11:36

The daily routine of a homeless person, anonymous, June-July 2003

To know you’re nothing

Or: An attempt at a hermeneutics of one’s own existence

Formally unprepossessing: a single telephone on a table that is otherwise empty, in a darkened, dreary room with sounds in the background, poorly articulated sentences. The sound installation “AudioDiary”, an authentic, spoken playback of the daily routine of a homeless man in Luxembourg City, seems insignificant. Just like the life it describes: a conglomeration of hope, resignation and solicitude that is now recounted to us.

Correspondingly, one might be tempted to see in Oliveira’s auditory piece merely the superficial documentation of a reflection on individual living conditions. But Oliveira’s work accomplishes more than this. In “AudioDiary”, the artist – borrowing from Theodor Adorno’s social theory – confronts the viewer with his or her own fears of living a life on the margins of existence in our affluent society – in other words: with the nightmare becoming a victim of modernization. At the same time, we are brought face-to-face with our own “depersonalization and disinhibition” as the consequence of increasing bureaucracy, monopolization and cultural industrialization in a late Capitalist, “integrative” society in which the ideal of the human as self-confident, self-determined and self-actualizing individual in a communicative society gets lost in the anonymous masses.

Art is intended here as a commentary made manifest and as a transformation of social and political engagement. This is a view of art that puts Oliveira in the illustrious company of predecessors such as Joseph Beuys, Hans Haacke or the Collectif d’art sociologique.

René Kockelkorn

graphic design Paulo Tomas

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© Edmond Oliveira