Desert in a Desert & Sei-Khai-Reich – Željko Kipke

Desert in a Desert

A year ago, when I accepted the offer to prepare a one-day exhibition or a whole-night project in Golo brdo, I started contemplating the specifics of the artistic-exhibition complex. Is it better to enter the fortification that reminds of Gaudi’s constructions, or would a traditional exhibition in the adjoining building to the left of it (if the view of the complex is to the North) be a better idea? Maybe the exhibition would be better off in the open, next to the pinewood on the Southern side, or in the middle of the complex next to the spacious round aquarium? In time, I came to the conclusion that it is better to define the problem first, only than deciding on the actual space. I concluded that the »desert« on the Rovinjsko Selo hillside should be faced with a film about a desert, addressing centres of power and ways to fend off the inevitable evils of civilization. It is a film I started in 2006, changing its construction several times, finally finishing it in 2007. It is a reconstruction of a dream of mine from 2005, entitled Sei-khai-reich – during the same year I published a catalogue of dreams by the same name, accompanying my exhibition in Velika Gorica (Dreams Say It All). This, naturally, is not all – in a dream at the end of 2007, I received a message to show that very film in Golo brdo, an experience of 6 minutes and 23 seconds, filmed on several locations in Tunisia. I made two versions of it: in the first one, the narrator speaks French, with subtitles in English, while in the second the same narrator speaks Croatian.


Nocturnal Notes of October 21

The young woman was in panic, for she had been called and put on the list of future victims. No possibility of appeal. Those were simply the rules, and there was no appeal. However, I did not like the rigid rules. I was certain that some things could always be changed, even when this seems impossible. So I started to devise a plan for escaping the community that, obviously, took a great interest in things and was in complete control of its members’ lives. I knew that they listened in on and followed every individual wherever they may go, but I decided to screw the system nevertheless. Thing is, I could not erase the image of the face of the panicking young woman. Wherever I went I was followed by her wide-open eyes. In the initial phase of the rebellion I never thought about the easiest solution, namely: erase the image of those eyes urgently, as it represented true danger – it could help my masters to anticipate my every move!

I started off with the assumption that any effort to hide my departure was futile. I trusted that I would keep my wits about me sufficiently to avoid all the potential traps my masters may have prepared in advance. I was partly right, as they let me steal out and deep into the desert undisturbed. They counted on my leading them to the rebels’ hideout, so they might close two irritating cases at once, the one concerning the unsavoury fugitive and the rumours of the rebel hideaway that had been giving them headaches for a long time. However, they failed to consider the possibility that, for any reason, the image of the young woman’s frightened eyes might be erased from my memory during the flight, as was indeed the case. Thus they lost my trail, and I, not knowing what the catch was, wondered at the fact that no one was following or chasing me.

In the desert, I encountered groups of rebels. They were hiding out in tunnels dug deep under the sand dunes. The answer to my question on where I was seemed mysterious: SEI-KHAI-REICH. The name sounded familiar, but I could not remember where I had heard it. No one paid any attention to me in the sand tunnels. Everyone was minding their own business, nobody even considered butting in on others. I was concerned about the new circumstances, the total opposite of the ones I had escaped from, as the unwritten rules of the desert directed one to take no interest in one’s neighbour. They simply did away with the social context, which is usually accompanied by centres of control and unjust division of power. SEI-KHAI-REICH was designed as a hermitage without constraint, to the bitter end, one to one – with no possibility of return.

Translation from Croatian into English: Igor Seissel


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