Stigter Van Doesburg is proud to present the first solo show of Mark Boulos at the gallery. Apocrypha takes its title from the excluded books of the Bible, those elements that were edited out of the Christian doctrine. Many were only recently rediscovered, some exist only as fragments. Most of the videos presented at the gallery were created during the stay of Boulos on occasion of the Rome Prize Fellowship residency at the American Academy in Rome.
The gilded panels, ‘Mary Magdalene, I, II and III as well as ‘The Apocryphon of John’, quote passages from these texts, and combine them with documentary interviews from young Romans talking about gay sex and love. They are projected on gold to recall Byzantine icons and Renaissance painting, and slowed to 16 frames per second, the frame rate used to project silent films, which the intertitles also refer to.
‘Departures’ is also based on documentary interviews with young queer Romans; describing falling in love, and their first kiss. After many such interviews and auditions, these three were selected for the commonality of their stories: kissing at Termini train station in Rome. Boulos intercut these documentary interviews to create one story. Each then re-enacted those parts of the story that were not theirs. He presented all three simultaneously, so they talk over each other, drifting in and out of synch. At any moment, one of the three is the original documentary interview, and the other two are acted, but it is unclear which is authentic and which is performed.
‘Projection (Self-Portrait as my Psycho-Analyst)’ is a documentary recording of a session with Boulos’ long-time Freudian analyst in London. It is a reverse interview: she interrogates him, but Boulos edited out his own voice. He is present only in her questions and response to him, and indeed in his absence. He used a hand-held camera, which often means a subjective, realistic perspective. But he digitally stabilizes the shot to focus on the analyst’s eyes. The frame and periphery shake around the focal point, to realistically represent the way our vision works (our eyes find focus even when our body and world move around it).
‘Confessions’ is a documentary recording of a confession of Boulos in the Vatican regarding his homosexuality. He confessed his deepest guilt and shame, but edited out his own voice, and is present only in the priest’s response and absolution. Boulos used the same stabilized hand-held camerawork as in Projection, to supersede the normal tropes of realism and subjectivity in documentary, and to represent himself behind the camera, as a gesture of self-portraiture.
Boulos’ work revels in performative complications of the relation between the documentary and the imagined. He refuses to accept the boundaries that traditionally separate visual arts and film. Boulos is concerned with the aesthetics of reality and combines his political insights with creative strategies to make an art that is entirely humanistic.