We Just Left Shore

Stefan Panhans


Artist Novel, 18 x 11 cm, 120 p., language : German, publisher : Textem, Hamburg, ISBN : 978-3-86485-166-7.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2030/4).

Literary synopsis

Video and photo artist Stefan Panhans has written a novel. His alter ego is looking for a job and roams a cityscape that seems to him like one big casting office, and continues to move jobless, overtired, hungry and with his smartphone locked because of an unpaid bill, always on the verge of fainting, entangled in a breathless odyssey of insane sceneries, that take place in a world where everyday reality, computer games, memories, movies, TV shows, commercials, and dreams are inextricably interwoven, and an escape from this nerve-wracking state seems a long way off. Whereas Edgar Allen Poe's Arthur Gordon Pym needed a ship for his adventure journey, Panhans' nameless narrator travels in a contemporary manner, almost staggering, on the stream of events of an 'augmented reality' which, as if he were directly connected to its network, makes itself felt right into his body and his 'hard drive' and drives him on and on. Only his companion, a mysterious, not particularly talkative female figure with several names, seems to still know what to do, because the grand jury is in session, the clock is ticking, and zombies don't sleep.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

Monologues and dialogues are an important element in Stefan Panhans' video works. The artist writes the texts himself and, just as in We Just Left Shore, they are partly composed of found text passages of varying quality and origin. From advertisements, posts from social networks and blogs, pop songs, how-to literature, film dialogues, to tax forms, various text parts flow into it. The artist's novel thus basically is based on Panhans' examination of increasing hypermediatisation and digitalisation and their effects and feedback loops with our bodies, our psyche and our behaviour under the conditions of an accelerated capitalism in permanent crisis, which is a common theme present in almost all his works. Since the artist's novel was written in parallel to the film Freeroam À Rebours Mod#I.1, and it has strong references to the world of computer games too, it is als shown as part of the installation. Like many of Panhans' video works, the novel (which grew out of the idea of writing a 'film in words') is accompanied by a fitting soundtrack produced for it by Swiss composers Jannik Giger and Lukas Huber, which is made available via a link in the book.

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