CascoProjects Utrecht, 2003Past Imperfect
Casco Issues 9, 2005
Past Imperfect explores the relations between the radical output of the conceptual art of the '60s and '70s and everyday life, gradually moving on to include how radical ideas from the past are linked to those of today. In all corners of life politics, literature, intelligence, science radical actions, even if they seem to have disappeared in oblivion, influence and shape the public arena.
So far, Past Imperfect contains 82 cases, which are brought together in Casco Issues: PAST IMPERFECT (2005).
This publication, designed by Wil Holder, is the result of a research collaboration by Bik Van der Pol with Lisette Smits and Wil Holder - intensely guided by curiosity, amazement and suspicion, accepting the risk of being totally incomplete or overly thorough.
Past Imperfect searches for hidden pasts by lifting stones and poking underneath; collecting cases around notions on disappearance, perfection, excessive control, compulsion and withdrawal as varied as causal developments, state fiction and ambiguity, coincidental histories, preservation and
destruction, dark politics, the haunting of artifacts and economical speculation, erasure, protection, the impossible made possible, and much more.
Some case studies are developed as a new work. An example of this is Case 39, made for Life, Once More - Forms of Reenactment in Contemporary Art , curated by Sven Lütticken, at Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam
Past Imperfect (Case 39)
Life, Once More - Forms of Reenactment in Contemporary Art Past Imperfect
Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art
Case 39 focuses on cases of disappearance, perfectionism, excessive control, and withdrawal.
Howard Hughes was well known as an aviator, movie producer, and billionaire. He died April 5, 1976, after 10 years of reclusion in, among other places, a hotel room in the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas.
He produced several films: Scarface, Hells' Angels, Invasion U.S.A. and in 1956 The Conqueror, with John Wayne in the leading role of Genghis Kahn. The Conqueror was shot in the Nevada desert in 1954.
This area was also the ground of the Nevada test sites where in the 1950's more than 100 nuclear tests have been executed. The fall-out of the nuclear tests stretched over large parts of the United States. The dust was ever present, and cast and crew of The Conqueror rolled through the sand during the countless fighting scenes and played with Geiger counters (which reacted). People living in that area (declared 'safe' by the authorities) had parties and pick-nicks in the sand. Howard Hughes shipped 60 tons of Nevada desert sand to a Hollywood studio, to rebuild scenes for extra shooting.
Many of the people present in the area of the Nevada test sites died of radioactive diseases, including many of those working with The Conqueror. Then, Hughes took The Conqueror out of distribution, leaving only him to be able to watch the movie over and over again in his hotel room in Las Vegas where he locked himself in.
The Nevada Desert is close to Las Vegas, only 150 miles from the Desert Inn Hotel. Hughes, a spider in the political and corporate web, bribed and manipulated several presidents, among them Nixon, to stop nuclear testing on his doorstep.