Monika Oechsler


STRIP portrays girls aged 8 to 14, stripping and reassembling handguns while being blindfolded. The video was filmed with members of the only Home Office-approved British gun club licensed to offer membership to children from the age of eight.

The girl’s expert and deft handling of guns unfolds through slow motion dissolves. The individual sequences are edited in reversed motion and back to front, thereby merging the start and finish of the action into an ongoing loop. Using editing as a tool to change our perception of linear time, the work suggests that certain actions are self-perpetuating. The skill required for expert gun stripping is to complete the process each time in exactly the same fashion. In contrast to this, the work with its dream-like juxtaposition of slowed-down images exudes a haunting quality, asking questions concerning notions of the innocence of childhood.

The focus remains on the actions of the girls: we never see their faces. This is a violent striptease, performed for the locked gaze of the viewer. This technique cuts out the individual personalities involved. The focus is on the process, the jarring collision between pre-adolescence and violence, the nagging sense of foreboding.

STRIP, 1997

Single channel video, PAL, color, mono, Original Beta SP, 4:40 min.
Excerpts quoted from a text by Vaughan Allen in the catalog Warning Shots! Contemporary Art Exploring Themes of Conflict and Violence

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