Stage fright (in progress)

black and white digital video (found footage), no sound, 6’04’’

‘Stage fright’ consists of army training footage sourced from the US National Archives and Records Administration, which is currently open to the public domain via the internet. Nearly all of these have been a part of ‘The Big Picture’ documentary, emitted in US television between 1951 and 1964, which at the time focused on the news about the US army, pointing out how well prepared it is for the WWII, providing some kind of reassurance to Americans, presenting the most recent technological developments. Willingness of the young soldiers as shown (and probably even a little exaggerated) to defend their country served as a propagandist tool, encouraging young men to join the army.

Throughout the original clips from the documentary, young soldiers undergo various measurements and check-ups, to make sure they are physically, mentally and manually fit, so they can bear the weight of harsh military life. Joining the army is being presented as the most noble act; the imagery intertwines soldiers’ unwavering motivation, idealizing their heroic attitudes, with the disciplinary procedures; we are confronted with the laboratory-like examination of their physical capabilities. The attention is paid to the limitations of the human body, which seem to be pushed towards their very limits – as the military service poses risks such as permanent handicap, the video shows up almost immediate ‘solutions’ to those problems (which they themselves create), such as prosthesis, which can be used by the soldiers, almost in the same way as the body parts which have been lost due to war.

The main point of focus in the work is to bring about the needs, demands and capabilities of the human body which it needs in order to perform which go above the humane; the human body becomes a laboratory, a guinea pig for medical research and military interests. With the upbeat tone of the propagandist videos, I am trying to pose a critical question on how the bodies are treated as a never-ending work in progress.