“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality judiciously, as you will, we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Karl Rove (Ron Suskind, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” The New York Times Magazine, 17 October 2004.)
Žák’s video entitled The Shattered Epistemologist, created during the artist’s time in Berlin, represents the climax of his two-year period of creating video essays, during which his approach to this genre has radically evolved – from the use, analysis, and re-contextualization of archival footage (Second Person Singular, 2015, and Mother City, 2015), he has moved towards the creation of autonomous experimental fiction films. A central point of reference in Žák’s most recent works is the legacy of well-known British experimental filmmaker John Akomfrah, the author of incisive documentary syntheses, converted into a specific poetically-founded artistic language.
In his latest video, The Shattered Epistemologist, Žák collaborates with the charismatic Berlin-based German-Beninese dancer Meïmouna Coffi. Working with a script by Žák, Coffi has created an improvised dance choreography based, among other things, on the physical gestures we use when we operate digital equipment. A collage of dance sequences and blurry, abstract footage – is a visual-poetic metaphor, accompanied by a subjective verbal and text-based commentary that places the fictitious situations within a real and specific context.
The Shattered Epistemologist is centered around the semantic properties of “truth” and “post-truth”, in the context of the modern era’s information smog and media manipulation. It refers to the current debate surrounding “post-truth,” a term whose usage increased by more than 2000% last year, earning it the title of Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year.
The project was supported by Artycok.tv, based on the opencall for a new audiovisual work in 2016. Jiří Žák was the winner of the professional/amateur category.