THE SMILER  (2022)

Video, HD h.264, colour, stereo 11.23 min
Language: French

“The Smiler” is an experimental video which focuses on the idea of construction and destruction
of a place to inhabit within the mind. An imaginary ideal scenario created by someone without any place. The title: “The Smiler” is an invented word “smile-er” and could refer to someone whose job is “to smile”.

The video portrays a man from Senegal that lives in a permanent status of displacement due to the harsh migrations policies of Europe. This person is invited to perform in front of a camera holding
a forced smile for an undefined amount of time. With his look focused permanently on the camera lens, his face features start experimenting an incongruent mix of emotions which generate a feeling of unease and exhaustion. Simultaneously, this man recreates in his mind a pleasant place to inhabit, a fictional scenario where he feels he has achieved his dreams in the promised land. What kind of job he would have had and the different things he would be doing if the current scenario was different. In general terms, the possibility of inhabiting a different place in his minds if he had the right to do so. His thoughts are audio-recorded and embedded in the film.

How can we emotively perform a sentiment of which we have no clear grasp? How long does it take for a scenario of a mental inhabited place to collapse and vanish again? The video functions as a transition from an ideal staged scenario to a more sharp and hopeless image of the present reality. “The Smiler” is an experiment which seeks to reverse in a metaphorical way the direction of time, from an idealistic non existent place to the physical incapacity and tiredness of holding on to it. A cynical representation of a “inhabited place” that portrays from a psychological point of view, the reality of a group of people and their constant failures to find their place within Europe.

Stills of the video: The Smiler