Off Road

Uta Kogelsberger

'Off road' was developed at a state vehicular recreation area on the coast of California; a landscape of Sahara-like sand dunes regularly covered in a heavy fog. On a weekday the location is fairly empty and then, on a weekend, thousands of people arrive with their trailers, SUVs, self- built cars, quads and bikes.

My interest in the location developed out of a fascination with these controlled 'pockets of freedom', that I think of as being particularly emblematic of North American culture; places where people go to leave the constraints of everyday existence behind to live out a fantasy of autonomy and freedom. A fantasy that is also instrumental in sustaining the political system that houses it.

This is a location full of inherent contradictions; on the one hand it has a strong social function of acting as a place that - through something as simple as a shared interest - cuts through class and social boundaries.

Juxtaposed to this social role there is the problematic of the damage that is done to the environment through the current use, which results in constant threat of closure. Equally I am fascinated by the amount of energy that goes into something that seems to be a futile occupation.

The project has been developed over an extended period of time, and Consists of five separate elements that use very different languages, creating a patchwork of this complex location:

In the central projection at first it seems as if a city had been transplanted to the coast following a natural disaster. It is only gradually that the place reveals itself for what it is. Rather than staging shots I have placed the camera waiting for the action to happen, creating an improvised choreography. The camera movement has a similarly disembodied feel as images from a large format camera have.

The second element consists of a slide show of photographs with a voice over of interviews of people who frequent the location, giving an insight into the political dimension of the location and related issues. The third element is a series of three more sculptural 'video objects' that present the viewer with looping snippets of the location.