Panic (2014), a 3D stereoscopic video projection, color, sound, 90 minutes, by artist Louis-Philippe Scoufaras is an evocation of the god Pan, shot on Mount Sodom, Israel, in August 2014; the intensity of the conflictual situation in Gaza (panikon deima) is to be reflected in this film. In the middle of the deserted salt mountains overlooking the Dead Sea, two bearded naked men reenact Pan Copulating with a Goat, the infamous polished marble sculpture found in the Villa of Papyri, in Herculaneum.

On show at Akademie Schloss Solitude as part of »The Trilogy of Terror« starting March 10, 2016

Despite their passionate struggle, the expressionless faces of the actors and choreographed coition rhythmed by statuesque pauses reveal the reenactment and re-appropriation of mythology by the artist – a critical stance toward a pervasive political and theological practice. Pan is here summoned as a dual symbol of lasciviousness and war-strategic function to induce uncontrollable fear – panic.
In a paradoxical age of oppression or neo-liberal commercialization through pornography, this film dignifies a timeless form of human bonding, an emotional attempt to represent the indicible nature of physical communication.

An interview with Pan & goat

CH: The scene in the film Panic entails you having sex for 90 minutes in the middle of the deserted salt mountains in the light of the rising sun. How did you find the experience?

Goat: An incredibly moving experience. It has fractured my life into before that experience and after.

Pan: It was like everything that tends towards activities conditioned by modern life in a design ensuring a long and troubled economy: crafts turning into wage labor, the aesthetics of musical repetition, variation of pattern, getting lost in the repetition of a specific act whose meaning fades shot after shot. It also represents the possibility for a trance of emancipation from the self. But it also expresses abstraction, the seductive perfection of logic and of the cycle, as opposed to choosing the body. Nevertheless, a shameful quest of humanity, more subtle than words, emerges in the process in the mutual support of two bodies fleeing complacent self-awareness. This link is expressed here through compassion rather than the pursuit of pleasure.

CH: How do you feel when you watch the film?

Goat: I feel proud, changed, honored, political, calm, engaged.

Pan: I feel a lot of hope. The cycle of our rhythm as performers could only continue because of our self-support, and because the sun rising on two sodomites didn’t destroy them.

CH: Did you study the history of the characters and the statue to perform your roles? How would you describe your role as a goat?

Goat: Yes. The artist informed us of the history and I did further research; it’s important to the work, so I was active in finding out all I could. I have always been fascinated, by both Pan and goats. I did do goat research for the role by going to see live goats, moving like a goat, acting like a goat and its all very natural to me, which I guess is why I was chosen. They are quite strange creatures

CH: Pan is the god of nature and the forest. He protects animals, but is also feared. The word »panic«, which is also the title of the film, derives from his name. – Did the ambivalent nature of this character play any role in your performance?

Pan: Not at all. My goal was to portray the sculpture, which is somehow the opposite of »panic« and what Pan represents.

CH: The film also reflects on the intense conflict in Gaza in August, 2014, as it takes place on Mount Sodom, Israel. What role did this play for you?

Goat: The context means so much to me and was one of the reasons for partaking. It’s important to engage with politics in art and life. It’s a form of communication, and I felt that it was my part to play in opening a dialog about the history of religion, the holy land and the current conflict in Israel. The choice to go was not lightly made by any of the people involved.

Pan: I wanted to avoid the question because it’s not my story. Of course, I felt sadness and nervousness being in Jerusalem, where we stayed, seeing people building abstractions to consider the reality of their humanity. Every word was about justification. The desert was actually for me a place of retreat, without any humanity, without history, nothing but sand, silence, sky and stars. I didn’t feel like I was in any country at all on Mount Sodom.

CH: An intimacy shown in the film between you is probably not so easy to have: Are you a couple?

Goat: What a shit question! I think that’s a ridiculously archaic angle to take on intimacy. Get enlightened, open your heart, mind and body to people and intimacy can be achieved in a handshake. Grow, people, evolve now and the world will be a better place with less conflict and hatred.

Pan: What do you think?

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