Anne-Julie Raccoursier’s video work stands at the intersection of recorded live scenes and spectacularly staged images. She starts from real life, working on the images to reframe them and give them a fresh rhythm, isolating particular elements and playing with the sound.
Grace-Notes, shot in Pennsylvania in one of the three American factories that makes flags for official use, is the result of a long process of research, interviews and editing, foregrounding the paradoxes involved in ‘producing’ a national identity. While the work literally explores how the national emblem is made, it is delivered to the viewer by means of ellipsis, since recorded reality too, by definition, precludes a global overview.
Filmed with a camera on a tripod, in classic documentary fashion, Grace-Notes opens with a shot of a seamstress at work, wearing noise-cancelling headphones and frowning in concentration, her hands constantly feeding through metres of Stars and Stripes fabric. The shots follow one after the other at a fast pace, framing first each seamstress bent over her monotonous task, then the group as a whole – an army of women at work, almost motionless except for their hands. Only the fabric that quickly piles up in the foreground seems to have a life of its own. We hear the chatter of the machines and a hypnotic soundtrack of looped guitar chords, but there is no off-screen voice commenting on or interpreting the images. The only words framing the video are those on the label the artist has displayed alongside the video wherever it is shown: ‘When you buy an American flag… You wouldn’t like to see a tag on it… with the words “Made in China”.’
Fanni Fetzer (ed.), Anne-Julie Raccoursier – Loop Line, exh. cat. Langenthal, Kunsthaus, 2011.
Konrad Bitterli, Anne-Julie Raccoursier, Lucerne/Poschavio, Ed. Periferia, Zürich, Pro Helvetia, 2010.
Nicole Schweizer, Anne-Julie Raccoursier, exh. cat. Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, 2008.