Country: Switzerland / Malaysia
Duration: 19 mins
Sound: sound
Ratio: 4:3
Available Format/s: SD Digital file
Original Format: SD Video


“In the first scene of Hanspeter Ammann’s video Johor, tourists wander about the courtyard of a temple somewhere in South East Asia.  One elderly gentleman brusquely waves away some children who are blocking his view, though the focus of the spectacle lies just out of camera range.  We look at the people looking, not seeing the things they see, and our ignorance creates an effect of mystery.  What secrets do the glittering walls contain, what manner of enlightenment do these (perhaps unconscious) pilgrims seek?  As if in answer, the next image shows the awesome twin towers in Kuala Lumpur – temples of commerce, yet reaching up to the sky with infinite aspiration and longing.  Thereafter, the scenes oscillate between questioning and response.  Many of the subjects (groups and individuals, easterners, westerners, a man sitting in an empty restaurant, a woman lighting her cigarette at a window) seem faintly lost as though waiting for some nameless revelation.  It arrives in the form of pure beauty.  We glimpse a bride and groom posing ceremonially at a traditional wedding, and their festive solemnity reminds us of the pudgy gods and goddesses we also see adorning a fantastically coloured façade.  Temples, caves, murals and people as still as murals – serenely self-sufficient images that offer redemption and yet withhold it.  We feel we are in the presence of a plenitude whose meaning finally slips from our grasp.  Ammann’s tableau-like shots suggest moments frozen in eternity, while the nonsynchronous soundtrack implies the whole human commotion going on regardless.  An elusive, elegant tape that grows richer with each viewing.” Peter Matthews, Sight and Sound, London

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