Inflight

Research on the context and the judicial framework of ‘Inflight’ (Johan Grimonprez)



A PACKED research project in collaboration with argos and S.M.A.K.. Period: 2008-2009.

The installation ‘Inflight’ by Johan Grimonprez was purchased by S.M.A.K. in 2000 during a Grimonprez exhibition at the museum. The work is reminiscent of an airport lounge. Seating corners are created in the space, wall paintings are made and big palm trees cheer up the entity. Visitors can lay down on comfortable seats and can drink a cup of coffee or a glass of water in the meanwhile. On tables Glossy magazines, ‘safety on board’-cards and vomit bags can be found. These are the three things that you would normally find on an airplane, but here they carry an ironic twist. The Inflight Magazines contain diverse information about airplane hijackings. On the vomit bags a pictogram of a crashed plane is printed, and the ‘safety on board’-cards display information on how to react in case of a hijacking by aliens.

Visitors can view films on two screens that they can select themselves from a video library presented to them. This video library, consisting of 26 tapes, was curated by the artist himself and contains Hollywood blockbusters, foreign documentaries and publicity clips. They have a common theme, namely airplane crashes, hijackings or abductions by aliens.

S.M.A.K. already did research into ‘Inflight’ – mainly with regards to documentation and presentation. This research was done in collaboration with the artist within the framework of the 'Inside Installations' project. During the research it became clear that this installation was only one version of the (larger) art work: video library. According to Grimonprez, other versions of the video library can also be shown by S.M.A.K. Some versions resemble ‘Inflight’ (lounge), others have a different atmosphere or a different video selection. Every time the video library is shown, it is adapted by the artist. Variability is a very important characteristic of this art work; the content is defined by current world politics or historical contexts, as well as by museum policy, the theme of the exhibition or museum architecture.

It is important to do judicial research and to define how the museum has to deal with the video library and its changing content.

‘Inflight’ was created as an extension of the video dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, a previous project by Johan Grimonprez. This video is part of the video library of ‘Inflight’. Argos has this video in its collection, as well as a large amount of archive material on Grimonprez and his work. S.M.A.K.'s research on 'Inflight' has also resulted in a lot of documentation. Such contextual information can contribute to the conservation and disclosure of the art works. The importance of such contextual information for the installation of the work will be analysed.

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