Man ascending to the sky
The dialectic of repetition is easy, because that which is repeated has been, otherwise it could not be repeated; but precisely this, that it has been, makes repetition something new. When the Greeks said that all knowing was recollecting, they were also thus saying that all of existence, everything that is, has been. When one says that life is repetition, one also says that that which has existed now comes to be again.
(Repetition, Søren Kierkegaard)
Historical events were always reconstructed, whether for the purposes of research, education, entertainment or art. When we wish to reconstruct a moment from an historical event, we perform a repetition combined with recollection. Kierkegaard explained that repetition and recollection are in fact the same movements going in opposite directions; that is, what one recalls had already happened, we return to it and repeat it, thus going backwards. However, in real repetition one recalls forward, we re-live reality which is happening now. Therefore, in the act of reconstruction we move backward: we repeat the event – the act of recalling; at the same time we also experience the repetition of the event, we repeat it – we remember forward, the repetition creates something new.
The attempt of reconstructing a particular event based on photographed or written evidence creates a new event. The language in which the artist chooses to execute the reconstruction determines the type of renewed event – the particular moment and the duration of time spent in it, the medium in which it is executed, the manner in which the model is reconstructed.
Repeating an event introduces the question – what moment does one choose to recreate: is it the moment of trauma, in which time has stopped still? The frozen gaze, which essentially recreates the spacetime of the participant in the actual event, more than the gaze of the outside viewer? The moment of anticipation preceding the predetermined end, the imminent disaster? Or do we choose the moment after the event had already happened?
The repetition paradox originates in the fact that one can only discuss the mode of epetition in relation to its influence on the viewer’s awareness; and that in turn is actually influenced by the viewing of the repetition itself. The decision of executing a reconstruction in the medium of video, focusing on the moment preceding the disaster, creates tension between the viewer’s preliminary knowledge about what is about to take place and what happens in the reconstruction: will the repetition of the event unavoidably result as it actually happened in reality? Is fate sealed in advance, or perhaps the artist had decided on a different, new end to the event.