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Ola Pehrson

February 24, 2007 - May 27, 2007

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About the Exhibition

By November Paynter

 

From 1978 until his arrest in 1996 Theodore Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber (university and airline bomber), targeted individuals with a campaign of mail bombings. In all he sent sixteen carefully crafted bombs to academics and scientists, members of the air force, airline officials, and individuals working in public relations and in computer stores, killing three and injuring a further twenty-nine people. The mistake that led to Kaczynski’s capture was his demand that his antitechnology manifesto, “Industrial Society and Its Future,” be published for full public scrutiny in a major national newspaper. In the end the US Department of Justice agreed to the publication in the hope that it would help with the capture of the Unabomber, and the text was excerpted in the New York Times and published in full in the Washington Post on September 19, 1995. It was Kaczynski’s younger brother David who recognized the arguments against an industrialized society and the style of writing as those of his brother. Based on this evidence, the suspect’s identity was finally reported to the FBI.

 

In 1998 Kurtis Productions Ltd. and Towers Productions Ltd. produced a half-hour documentary based on Kaczynski’s notorious bombing campaign and life story entitled The Hunt for the Unabomber. Ola Pehrson spent several years re-creating this documentary in his own unique way. Pehrson’s process was theoretically very simple. He selected a series of stills and animations from the original documentary and then modeled them in a variety of everyday materials such as clay, junk, thread, and polystyrene. Nearly all his creations were formed as three-dimensional objects, and they included everything from newspaper clippings, which he made and then drew and wrote on by hand, to environments, locations, and photographs that all became intricate three-dimensional models. Even the documentary’s on-screen quotes took the form of handcrafted speech bubbles, rather than being applied via computer during the editing process. Although the number of objects kept rising—because, as Pehrson stated, “the reality of the quantity and form of models required for this remake remains elusive and utopian”—he eventually assembled enough handmade re-creations to shape almost every detail and scene to be found in the original documentary, and he personally acted out all the included interviews. Once these elements had been filmed in the correct order, and the original soundtrack had been added, a new documentary that is just one step further away from reality and yet no less authentic than the original was created. More


Note: All quotations from the artist are from e-mails sent to the author in the spring of 2005.


November Paynter is curator of Platform Garanti CAC in Istanbul and is currently on leave to work as a consultant curator at the Tate Modern in London. In 2005–6 she was assistant curator of the 9th International Istanbul Biennial.

 

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