Drogan’s Nightmare


Drogan’s Nightmare


Audio walk

12 minutes

Curated by Ivo Mesquita for XXIV Bienal de São Paulo.

Janet Cardiff

The Bienal building, a large futuristic cement warehouse with glass floor to ceiling windows, was a perfect site for a sci-fi story. There are three characters in this narrative: Janet (my voice), Drogan (George), and the Machine voice (a slowed-down woman’s voice). It is about a character named Drogan and a woman that discovers him in a warehouse strapped to a bed controlled by machines. (The title and characters were taken from a short story written by George in the 1980s.)

sound of cathedral, prayers

Janet The windows have been broken, they’re covered in cardboard. People are huddled in little groups by fires. I see rows of beds, filled with naked bodies attached to wires and tubes.

Drogan I Am I there ? Can you see me ?

Janet This place smells like raw sewage and burnt meat. barking dogs No one sees me. It’s like I’m invisible. someone yells hello

Janet Stop, wait for a minute.

Janet yells ‘Hello’ in space, then other people yell hello. then a singer walks by singing a Brazilian folk song about a pair of caged birds. the bird’s owner has plucked the eyes of the male one out so that the bird will sing more beautifully, but the bird sings about how sad it is that he will never see his lover again

Janet I remember walking through the market. sound of market

Machine 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. sound of bomb explosion, crashing glass

Janet I’m afraid of these images that go through my mind, destroying things. A car runs you over. A knife to my throat, falling down stairs, bite into your flesh, pushed against the wall, fist to your face, choke you with my tongue, drowning in puke.

In Drogan’s Nightmare, Cardiff built a kind of contemporary arcadia – an ideal place, a landscape for reflection, introspection, a place for a life of the mind. While artists from the classical era imagined it as a paradisical place, an idealized space where man was in harmony with nature and culture, Cardiff ’s walk, on the other hand, reveals a disenchantment with consciousness. Starting in the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo, Cardiff took visitors outside for a walk, where they became enmeshed in a plot that took them on a short journey into the interior of the park, but also, into the characters’ interior. In the end, the visitors are left in the woods opposite the stream, with the memory, or perhaps delusional image of a moment that becomes enlightened by the desire between two human beings. The tour takes the visitors back to the starting point without the conclusion of the story into which they were taken.

Ivo Mesquita

Related Publications

Janet Cardiff
The Walk Book

Thyssen_Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna in collaboration with Public Art Fund, New York