The Wars / De oorlogen
Oscar van Alphen
In The Wars, photographer Oscar van Alphen combines an adapted version of Georges Bataille’s text Madame Edwarda with images drawn from his archive. Madame Edwarda (published in 1941 under the pseudonym Pierre Angélique) is a story without beginning or end, in which a a male first-person narrator and a prostitute encounter each other in Paris by night. Madame Edwarda is about lust, power, anxiety, desire and humiliation. Van Alphen uses Bataille’s text as a metaphor for the perversity of social structures, for the uncontrollability of political and economic power, and the effects these have on human dignity. He juxtaposes pictures from the decaying and almost deserted industrial regions in northern France and of the 1968 student rebellion in Paris, with the pornographic text that came into being during the first years of WW II. The Wars is a restored version of the projection that was part of the 1984-1985 installation De Oorlogen. Combining still and moving images, set to a voice-over, it was originally projected (using 6 slide projectors and a 16mm film projector) in a space also displaying photographic prints. The 2006 restoration has digitally scanned and re-mastered the visuals, and created an English language version of the original Dutch soundtrack to create a single screen version of the piece.
Oscar van Alphen (1923-2010) was a photographer and writer. He published his first photobook in 1958 (Kinderen in de grote stad/Children in The Big City). He worked for newspapers during the sixties, mainly focusing on street events. From 1972-1979, a highly experimental period in the visual arts and the theatre scene, he provided a weekly theatre column for the magazine Vrij Nederland.
Editor(s):Bas VroegePhotography:Oscar van AlphenDesign:Yvo Zijlstra
In The Wars, photographer Oscar van Alphen combines an adapted version of Georges Bataille’s text Madame Edwarda with images drawn from his archive.