Chantal Akerman’s 2004 art installation Marcher à côté de ses lacets dans un frigidaire vide (Walking Next to One’s Shoelaces in an Empty Fridge) explores Akerman’s multigenerational family history as Jewish survivors of the Shoah. The installation is spatially configured so that the two parts poetically echo each other—one focuses on her writing displayed sculpturally, and the other on an interview with her mother about her grandmother’s diary—and features a projection doubled not only by side-by-side images but also by an additional intervening scrim bearing images of the diary. Writing her personal history in images and words, Aker-man explores the meaning of Jewishness and other ethnicities threatened by death while reaching out to her mother as a daughter whose being has always been shadowed by legacy and history. The essay explores intertextual resonances of the installation with other Akerman works as a poetics of understatement, collage, juxtaposition, and humor are forged. Fearlessly exposing her psyche, Akerman uses spatial and visual dimensions of display to turn her writing into a form that signifies far beyond writing’s ordered words as they might otherwise be reproduced.
Maureen Turim; Next to Chantal Akerman: An Installation of Generations and the Shoah. Camera Obscura 1 May 2019; 34 (1 (100)): 99–111. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-7264134
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