Desert Dreams, 2007
A reading/performance by Olav Westphalen
Olav Westphalen, Desert Dreams, 2007
Desert Dreams is a multi-layered, conceptual project. It combines heterogeneous images and materials, i.e. literary fantasy, documentary evidence and staged photography, in a provocative form. Desert Dreams is an experimental essay on art and politics under the conditions of spectacular, geopolitical conflict and within a culture of ritualized criticism.
The event consists of two parts. A five-minute slide show of found imagery, accompanied by an original score written by composer Jonas Knudson, followed by a 20-minute reading of a not-to-be-finished film script by Westphalen, titled Desert Dreams.
The slide show is the result of a broad image research, conducted in the years 2005 and 2006, on the blurring of pornography and political imagery, ranging from the infamous Abu Ghraib images to “Sex and War” a military-theme pornography website (the purely fictional contents of which have been presented as evidence of American atrocities in some Arab Media), to images of strippers entertaining troops and amateur-pornography produced by soldiers in the field. The images in the slide show are selected and edited to avoid cheap provocation and are no more pornographic or violent than any daily paper or news-site.
Desert Dreams – Cock and Awe is a fantastic, pornographic fairytale, taking place in a historical setting, during the early stages of the Iraq war. It juxtaposes stereotypical tropes of an ideologically informed news reality with playful, idealistic, positive, pornographic scenarios. Desert Dreams references the established, and by now somewhat nostalgic, genre of pornographic film parody, such as “John Wayne Uncut,” and “Tonya Hardon.” The result is an entertaining, yet radical text, at times comical, at times shocking, at times perhaps even sexually enticing, which is strategically positioned outside any prescribed rhetoric of political criticism or traditional satire.
Script and images: Olav Westphalen
Original music: Jonas Knudson