Don Quijote | Chapter 15: Beauty Equals Money
Multi-lingual with English, French and Spanish subtitles, 16 channel video installation, 2019
15: Beauty Equals Money
Once free, the Captive and Zoraida walk in the city. This scene is messy enough to preclude the sense of an ending that it might invoke. Instead, it makes history into confusion of values; a confusion that touches even the heart of individuals. The look is entirely contemporary, and so are the young women who address Zoraida, kindly asking her questions about who she is, where she comes from, and how she came by her elegant outfit. The man’s speeches are quotations from the novel. The confrontation between the past and the present, the banality of what remains when beauty is reduced to material possessions, and the pointlessness of an affectivity only based on admiration and greed, is the silent undertow of this scene. The man, former captive and still (incurably?) infested with that subhuman state, accosts other men in the street to boast about the beauty of “his” woman.
He mentions only the riches of her jewellery, as if they mattered more than her beauty, her person; in other words, herself.
Meanwhile, other young women who admire her outfit address her and ask who she is. The underlying question of cultural history that links present to past is this: is what we witness here an early form of "emotional capitalism”, that social syndrome we have explored in an earlier video project, MADAME B? Or is money important only for freedom, or as freedom? The confusion of these two aspects is largely responsible for the ongoing situation of the world. Zoraida remains only visible from the back during the man’s hyperbolic speeches about her beauty. In contrast, she voluntarily turns around when the women begin to talk with, rather than about her. So eager for contact is she that she loses sight of her companion, who crosses the street without noticing that she is not following.
The couple, liberated or dreaming to be, are separated by traffic and different conversations, and barely reunite at the end. For how long, the story doesn’t tell.
Images: Magdalena Engrup, Ebba Sund