They built the widened coral reef
2-channel video installation, 2019

We find ourselves in an unnamed compound with a group of co-workers engaged in conversations. They seem strangely distanced from each other, even though they are politely trying to converse. There is something unsaid in the conversations, something which has already happened and something which is still about to happen. A disaster lurks on the horizon, as the-coworkers are trying to perform their routines as if nothing is going to happen.

A restaurant owner is accompanying the house pianist through a seemingly infinite industrial kitchen where chefs cut and chop, sending vegetables flying. A couple eats dinner and speaks in great detail about the weather, while the landscape rushes past the restaurant's window as if they were sitting in a train compartment. The linear movement links the various scenes into a formal narrative of being on parallel lines that never meet. Only a few things seem to connect them, as the co-workers seem preoccupied with a group of musicians of which they can constantly hear, but which are always out of sight. Only when something disruptive enters the narrative, like a parasite, does disorientation arise.
Video. They built the widened coral reef. 19 min. 1-channel screening version (originally presented as a 2-channel video installation).

Installation view. Kunsthal Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark. Photo: Mikkel Kaldal.

Installation view. Kunsthal Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark. Photo: Malte Riis.

Installation view. Kunsthal Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark. Photo: Mikkel Kaldal.

Video still

Video still

Video still

Video still

"What do you think of the weather?", the restaurant owner asks. When people can’t figure out what to say to each other, they start to talk about the weather. The weather is often the subject that comes up in an awkward conversation: when we have nothing to say, or when we feel distanced, we talk about something that isn’t really interesting at all. It is a kind of non-subject. An empty speech. We talk, but the talking contains nothing. But at the same time, the weather is the common condition for all of us, which is probably why we grab that subject in an awkward situation. When we don’t know what connects us, we at least know that the weather does. That which contains nothing is most often the common condition. But what if there is something unsettling about the weather? A change which is hard to grasp in our common condition. In the fronts.

Different characters each exist in their own closed set, moving through a straight line, and even the foreground and background appear to slip past each other like parallel narratives. Suddenly, everything is interrupted by a karaoke track: "The link is delayed along the road. Connection is late on the road. This is the way". The camera movement links the various scenes into a formal narrative of being on parallel lines that never meet.

The characters of the film try to live their lives according to how they have always done. They try to fit their jobs and try to make life run smoothly. But at the same time, they can constantly sense something external that threatens to disrupt this structure. It's a bit like a hint at them, where they sometimes notice these disturbances that threaten to turn their everyday lives upside down, after which they immediately return to everyday life as if nothing has happened.

The musicians are always present in the soundscape, but never visually. From the character's perspective, the musicians can constantly be heard, playing along, but never in sight. The only musician we see visually is the pianist, and he seems to be the only person who has a direct connection to the musicians. In an orchestra, the melody creates the illusion of connectedness, and as such, the musicians point towards the conditions of intersubjectivity. And also, the musicians become something that seeps into a system: a parasite or an otherness into the known. The musicians are always in the plural and always in the blind spot: something that influences normality and at the same time supports it. That which cannot be experienced, but which affects all of the experience: the common.

The film is a mixture of different animation techniques: a hybrid out-of-sync animation method. Every object in the scenes moves in its own path and in different frame rates. Each part follows its own path, but co-exist in the same space. Objects are not only out-of-sync with each other, but also out-of-sync with themselves. The animation technique as such responds to the idea of disconnection. The instrumental parts that accompany the film as a backdrop were also constructed so that at some times the musicians played in sync with each other, and at other times slipped out of sync. In this way, we operated with a backdrop that was both synchronous and asynchronous, oriented and disoriented, and thus switched between being an unnoticed background and becoming a character on its own.

In the film, the notion of dying lurks behind every corner. Both the kitchen and the restaurant are a kind of apparatus for the countdown. The kitchen is a straight line where the characters wander a single path. The restaurant appears as a kind of train carriage that also has a linear direction. As soon as one speaks of lines, one speaks of numbers, since the doctrine of numbers is the doctrine of a line, and as soon as one speaks of a count, one also speaks of a temporality having a beginning and an end. Death is a phenomenon which belongs to the common, and which cannot be understood as a phenomenon. It is the one experience that we share, but whose experience we can not transfer to each other. In this way, death is at the same time completely individual and common - both never seen and always in sight.

The tiger is inspired by a children's book called The Tiger Who Came To Tea. In it, we meet a small child and her parents, living in a middle-class house. One day, a tiger comes to visit and tells it is hungry. They invite it to tea and cake. But after the tiger has eaten the cake and drunk the tea, it continues to the fridge and empties it, and afterward, it eats all the food in the kitchen and drinks all the water in the tap. After that, it says thanks and leaves. The child is afraid that her father will get mad when he returns from work, but when he does, he says that it is all right. Then they go to a restaurant instead. The tiger in this story becomes a special kind of intrusion into the family home: an intrusion that consumes everything, while at the same time, nothing really happens.


Mark Tholander

Kevin J. Bond
Janlyn Williams
Aundrea Sayrie
Joe Wilson Kolb

Mark Tholander

Animation of filmed footage:
Mark Tholander

Lars Hemmingsen Nørgaard (Midtjysk 3D Service)
Elisabet Hau (Midtjysk 3D Service)

Vector animation (tiger):
Sophia Ioannou Gjerding

Hand-drawn animation (tiger):
Mark Tholander

Karaoke animation:
Sergei Arzumanov

Composition (music):
Mark Tholander

Damjan Kapor
Mitch Cockman

David Tobias Bonde Jensen
Nicholas Di Gregorio
Sergei Arzumanov

Eli Mine
Emiliano Di Fiori

Mark Tholander

Andrew Nittoli

Matt Giella
Mihai Sorohan

Rainers Vestmanis
Miks Jukumsons-Jukumnieks
Victor Fuenmayor

English horn:
Jennifer Stucki

Mark Tholander

Sound editing / mixing:
William Kudahl

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