To love, to touch, to breed, to burn, to crown. These are among the words we read in the work of the artist Candice Brietz. Conceived to be a video installation made up of 1001 channels, the artist deliberately does not show us moving images, but leaves to the viewer the construction of these images of their sequence, starting from a suggestion, carved, the only immutable element. Digest (2020) is a work in which the narrative takes on an unexpected guise that is suggested by the object and by the inaccessible content that is inside.

The black boxes set up on the walls, at a closer look, are VHS cassette cases that the artist painted with black acrylic, leaving visible only one word of the title of the film they contain. The word chosen, removed from its original context, coincides with a verb and it is precisely the connotation of this verb that organizes the arrangement of these thousand boxes inside the exhibition space. Arranged perfectly on organized shelves, built to the millimeter in distances and heights, to imitate the aseptic arrangement of a video rental shop, the works are grouped into thematic blocks: you will therefore have the section on politics, on motherhood and paternity, on the opposition movements until all the available walls are filled. However, one VHS remains. In the center of the room, on a white pedestal, the last cassette shows Crown: the power of narration seems to be chosen by Breitz as a method of survival and struggle.

In fact, inspired by the fairy tale collection of A Thousand and One Nights, the artist wants to recall and suggest the tool of narration, which these sculptures are able to recreate, as a weapon to be able to cope with the social and political difficulties experienced in our present. The protagonist of A Thousand and One Nights, Sharazad, a proto-feminist figure, becomes the main reference of Digest. With her voice, she manages every night to evade her fate and survive death at the hands of her husband. In the same way, the artist’s voice passing through all these verbs embedded inside the cassettes is a warning, a suggestion, a scream: voices that accumulate and overwhelm each other in an attempt to generate new thoughts and attitudes that can have a reverb inside reality. ‘To crown’ in English also has the double meaning of crowning and beheading: with its installation Breitz pursues the denial and rejection of politically and humanly incorrect thoughts and behaviors: misogyny, racism, gender discrimination … inequalities and injustices which transversely afflict social contexts and offend, not only in words, the human being. Digest then becomes the proposal to the generation of a future through collective narratives.

Digest, is part of Never Ending Stories, a personal exhibition by Candice Breitz curated by Daniele De Luigi visible at the Palazzina dei Giardini in Modena from 8 June to 18 September 2022.


Candice Breitz
Details from Digest, 2020
Videotape in polypropylene sleeve, paper, acrylic paint
20.3 x 12 x 2.7cm
© Photo Saverio Cantoni, courtesy Studio Breitz