Subi dura a rudibus

16mm film diptych, 26 min, synchronous and back-and forth, 2010


The trend of embedded war correspondence in overseas conflicts incited us to delve deeper into the role of the image-maker and the work of representation and reproduction. Point of departure is a series of 16th century tapestries that depicts the conquest of Tunis by Charles V. The tapestry report was designed by the Dutch painter Cornelis Vermeyen, who travelled with the troops as embedded artist. The painter depicted the battle from multiple perspectives, showing both the point of view of the emperor and that of his opponents. He also included himself in the tableaux, drawing in the midst of the battle, in this way making clear that his report was based on embedded fieldwork.

The tapestries are nowadays kept in the palace of the King of Spain and also the patterns, drawn in charcoal on paper and tinted with watercolour, endured history. The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna keeps them in a narrow corridor in its attic.

After a long trajectory of permission seeking we were able to film the artefacts in situ. We explored identical scenes of the drawings and tapestries in 5 shots, each 5 minutes long, with a slowly moving camera. The tapestries were produced with their backside to the weaver, and thus present a mirror image of the drawings. In a synchronised double 16mm installation the mirrored scenes are shown side by side, causing figures to emerge from and disappear in the seam between the two projections.

subi dura a rudibus was commissioned by Auditorio de Galicia  Santiago de Compostela in Spain. (curator Pablo Fanego)