Blue Passages

15 July 2016  
Banyuls-sur-Mer, France – Portbou, Spain
multi video installation, c-type print, Olympic torch, “Passages” by Walter Benjamin, boat



In Blue Passages a girl brandishes a burning torch and makes a tortuous journey across the Pyrenees, from Banyuls-sur-Mer in France to Portbou in Spain. She walks in the footsteps of the German Jewish philosopher, Walter Benjamin, tracing the route of his doomed attempt to escape the Nazis in the year 1940. (When Benjamin arrived in Portbou, he was refused permission to cross the border into Spain, and in despair, retired to his room at the Hotel de Francia, where he killed himself with an overdose of morphine.) She descends into the Portbou, carrying her torch through ‘Passages’, Dani Karavan’s memorial to Walter Benjamin. The torch in her performance is inspired by the torch relay of the Olympic flame. Contrary to popular opinion, the relay has nothing to do with Ancient Greece, and was invented by the Nazis as a propaganda tool for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Olympic torch design: Ben Kikkawa, Video: Yoi Kawakubo, Photograph: Richard Nicholson, Costume design: Kyoko Wainai, Sound editing: Syo Yoshihama, Additional supports: Yuki Miyake, Pilar Parcerisas, Adam Wright, Jonathan Whitewall, Yosuke Takahashi, Dani Karavan, Kazuko Koike, Nomura Foundation