War Tourist

Emanuel Licha

5-Channel Video Installation, Colour, Stereo Sound (in English with English subtitles)

In cities which have been through a war or a disaster recently, or which are known to be dangerous, a professional tourist guide is hired and asked to organize a guided tour — which is filmed — of the worst destructions, or the most dangerous zones in the city.

War tourist wants to see, up close, the chaos and pain of others. He travels the world in search of ever-stronger sensations. His curiosity also acts to keep these events at a distance. He travels to assume himself that all this destruction and pain are well and truly somewhere else and that they don't threaten him at home.

The guide's talk brings two views of the place face to face: the local view and the outside view. In the relationship between the guide and war tourist, these two views meet through an arrangement identical to that of a supplier filing a customer's order. The guide shows the tourist what the tourist wants to see, even if it means inventing an idealized, picturesque  version of reality. He expresses himself in English — the language of tourism — and, even though they are wholly intelligible, his words are subtitled and slightly altered, in that same language. This detail denotes the tourist-viewer's sense of superiority and reinforces the idea that the guide is indeed the other: never perfectly clear or comprehensible.

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