What kind of stories are we willing to hear? What kind of stories move us? Love Story interrogates the mechanics of identification and the conditions under which empathy is produced.
Evoking the global scale of the refugee crisis, the work evolves out of lengthy interviews with six individuals who have fled their countries in response to a range of oppressive conditions: Sarah Mardini, who escaped war-torn Syria; José Maria João, a former child soldier from Angola; Mamy Maloba Langa, a survivor from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Shabeena Saveri, an Indian transgender activist; Luis Nava, a political dissident from Venezuela; and Farah Abdi Mohamed, a young atheist from Somalia. The interviews were conducted in the cities where each individual is seeking or has been granted asylum (Berlin, New York and Cape Town).
In the first space of the installation, re-performed fragments from the six interviews are woven into a fast-paced montage featuring Hollywood actors Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore (cast here as themselves: ‘an actor’ and ‘an actress’). Each was asked to channel excerpts from three of the first-person narratives on a green-screen set, without the support of fictional backdrops, costumes, props, accents or interlocutors. Breitz’s edit intertwines the six renditions, plotting the diverse socio-political circumstances and personal experiences that prompted the interviewees to leave their countries. In a second space that is accessible only via the first, the original interviews are projected in their full duration and complexity.
Suspending viewers between the gritty firsthand accounts of people who would typically remain nameless and faceless in the media, and an accessible drama featuring two actors who are the very embodiment of visibility, _Love Story_ reflects on the callousness of a media-saturated culture in which identification with fictional characters and celebrity figures runs parallel to widespread indifference to the plight of those facing real world adversity.
Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Outset Germany (Berlin) + Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.