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I left Paris by train. The journey lasted 24 hours without interruption after a one-hour formality at the Berlin Wall police station. I took with me my Portapak video camera, which never left my side...


Varsovie (PL)




Text of Vilém Flusser

Participants in the photo from left to right:
Rabascal, Sosno, Antony Muntadas, Jean-Pierre Bertand, Fred Forest, Hervé Fischer.

We were 6 artists invited to take part in this exhibition in Warsaw, the preface to which had been entrusted to Vilém Flusser.

I left Paris by train. The journey lasted 24 hours without interruption after a one-hour formality at the Berlin Wall police station. I had taken my video Portapak with me, which never left my side. In my compartment, a French traveller who was also going to Warsaw saw me with my equipment and asked me in astonishment: "How and where could you apply to transport such equipment? I learned from him on the spot that video recording equipment was considered to be espionage equipment and was absolutely forbidden... As I was now travelling towards Warsaw from Berlin at the top speed of a dusty steam locomotive, it was impossible for me to do anything. Stuck! I was stuck and could already see myself rotting in a Gulag deep in the desolate steppes of the USSR. As the Russian customs officers were intractable and Warsaw was under the control of the USSR, I had to rely on my lucky stars. When, a few kilometres from the finish, the guardrail gave way and the head of a customs officer appeared, my heart stopped beating. He glanced round and snapped shut the barrier he'd just opened. I had tried to slide my Portapak under the seat, but no matter how it was positioned, it always revealed part of its leather cover... By stretching out my legs over the seat where I was sitting, I hoped that the customs officers wouldn't see anything...

When I arrived at my hotel, a large building with faded luxury where our hosts had booked me my room on the fourth floor, at the end of the wide corridor I saw a sort of 'grandmother' asleep on a chair, no doubt in charge of watching the comings and goings of the guests... In my room, two windows opened onto the street protected by velvet curtains in faded colours. Unable to resist the temptation, I opened them a crack and saw the street 4 floors below through the glass. Having taken my Portapak out of its case (a spy tool, according to police nomenclature) I filmed the few passers-by who turned up... I also filmed the cars that took it in turns to drive through the crossroads at the foot of the building I was occupying. One by one they pulled out, leaving the street completely empty for long stretches of time. I had the fleeting idea of using the document that I would later edit for a fictitious pause in time, while the cars continued to pull out one by one, each from their own lane. Finally telescoping in the centre of the crossroads to form a compact mass, gradually rising to the height of my window on the 4th floor of the Luxor Hotel in Warsaw...


Fred Forest has a special place in contemporary art. Both by his personality and by his pioneering practices which mark his work. He is mainly known today for having used one by one most of the communication media that have appeared over the last fifty years. He is co-founder of three artistic movements: those of sociological art, the aesthetics of communication and ethics in art.

He represented France at the 12th São Paulo Biennale (Communication Prize) in 1973, at the 37th Venice Biennale in 1976 and at Documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977.