Reasonable Doubt | Chapter
Multiple-screen video installation, 2016
Multi-lingual with English subtitles
The mood in the last scene is a mix of sadness bordering on melancholia, along with Kristina’s brave attempts to learn, after the fact, from the wisdom of the friend she has lost. The ending is one of the rare moments in the project that something really happens. This, too, is a futural moment.
Kristina is devastated. Descartes’ death is an assault on her personal autonomy, which also affects her body; she collapses. Trying to pick up her life, she does the inevitable: she continues her routine. Some of these images are presentations of small routine acts; some are symbolic expressions of self-loss, such as when she disappears into a hollow tree.
When sitting dejected in her large and beautiful but empty private room, Kristina has a vision: the spectre of Descartes visits her. He encourages her to continue with her work, and to practise the most important “passion”: generosity. Kristina understands the message: Descartes’ friend, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, needs help, and she may be able to extend a helping hand to the other woman.
After the apparition Kristina moves to Rome. Entering the city, she is tempted by the Church before ending up in the Palazzo Corsini, her grand dwelling. There she faces antique imperial busts, as if matching her own status to that of those prestigious predecessors. Seeing her surrounded by ancient art and old-master paintings, one feels the futility of the worldly riches she cannot quite give up. A biographer asks her a question about her interest in science and philosophy. While she answers by reminiscing about the foundation of a University in Sweden when she was 13 years old, another visitor is announced: the very Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia she thought she should help!
The final scene is Elisabeth’s appeal to Kristina on behalf of her daughter Charlotte. This was the opportunity to recall the important moment when Descartes himself was in need of help. Whereas the scene is fictional, the ideas it expresses come from the correspondence between Descartes and Elisabeth. When, full of renewed hope, Elisabeth and Charlotte depart, the latter unexpectedly and inappropriately kisses the former Queen, who stays behind in confusion. The work finally asks: what is the meaning of social behaviour?