16mm film transferred to video

Duration: 07:44 min.

The piece explores the concepts of Sin and Sinners and consists of several dreamlike staged scenes of a young man’s inner fantasies as he looks at biblical illustrations from the Old Testament drawn by Gustave Doré (1832–1883).

The young man partially undressed, is lying on a mattress in a stage-like bedroom with dimmed light, surrounded by a large number of old books and the pages of Dorés biblical illustrations. The scene is dramatically lit by candles, adding a flickering saturated light to the situation.

The camera dwells on the face and naked torso of the protagonist and then moves to sequences showing fragments of Dorés classical biblical stories, depictions that are both brutal and violent. In these illustrations the traditional religious concept of sin, the wrath of God and perdition are presented as something inevitable, as a consequence of man’s inherent weaknesses and inability to resist temptation.

As the film unfolds, the protagonist is drawn deeper into a dream-like state where physical reality merges with the violent imagery he is gazing at. He has a hypnagogic dream (between waking state and sleep) in which he is a victim of something that can be described as an act of torture. Two dark figures wearing black masks equipped with scissors are cutting off his clothes while his hands are tied to a chair. The scene takes place in a small room, brightly lit from above, creating a stage-like focus on the action. The dark figures are cutting off his shirt, trousers and finally his underpants, in a manner that is violent but also soft, almost caressing. The shining sharp scissors gently stroke his naked body, in an ambiguous act that seems threatening and erotic and sexualized at the same time.

The music accompanying the different scenes is the main aria from J.S. Bach´s solo cantata ”Widerstehe doch der Sünde”, composed in 1704 as one of Bach’s solo cantatas for counter tenor. The lyrics “Widerstehe doch der Sünde, Sonst ergreifet dich ihr Gift” –“Stand Steadfast against Transgression or its poison will seize thee” are continuously repeated throughout the scenes. 

The music enhances the contrasting images and highlights the psychological complexities involved in the closely linked, sometimes inseparable, phenomena of finding pleasure in indulging in violence, and, on the other hand, in letting oneself be humiliated, degraded.

Excerpt from 16mm film Widerstehe doch der Sünde (Resist Sin), 2010