Oil workers (from the Shell company of Nigeria) returning home from work, caught in torrential rain

David Claerbout

25 January 2013

HD colour animation, duration endless, silent

Meticulously reconstructed after a small JPEG image found on the internet, (which also lends this piece its title) we see a group portrait of men sheltering from monsoon rains. They would probably walk away as soon as the rain ends. Still, someone must have had the idea to seize the occasion to take a picture of people waiting for better weather or better times. Indeed, the longer one looks the more they appear to be stuck, until that impression changes into a more official portrait.
The video uses 3D computer techniques and a simple camera movement, setting adrift the certainties of the original image relating to the abundance of water.
Of all the manifestations of time, waiting is one of the most difficult, because it implies being unproductive. The price tag attached to minutes, hours and days makes time expensive. Yet duration can only be free when it is unproductive.
On the other hand drought, conflict and poverty surround Africa like a cloud of flies, determining the picture we have of a continent. It is rarely portrayed as wet. In this piece however, water is the starting point for a picture about the oil industry.

Courtesy: Ivon Lambert, Paris