In 2006 a man was found drifting on a raft in the Skagerak Strait, in international waters, 30 sea-miles south of Kristiansand. Suffering hypothermia and other ailments, the man was rescued by a Norwegian ship and brought to shore in Sweden. No one knows who he is or where he comes from. The authorities are having trouble identifying him, and the media are full of speculation. The man himself refuses to speak.
The Danish artist duo Hanne Nielsen (b. 1959) and Birgit Johnsen (b. 1958) use this true story as the point of departure for their video work. In a four-screen video installation, images of the ‘drifter’ alternate with clips of interviews with sailors, the police and immigration authorities. The fragmented structure weaves together facts and fiction to create a story that raises existential and highly relevant questions about identity, nationality, a lack of belonging, and about being adrift as a human being.
Nielsen and Johnsen both of whom studied art at the Jutland Art Academy in Aarhus and have collaborated since 1993. Considered pioneers in Danish video art, they are represented in several collections in Denmark and abroad.
Drifting, 2014, format: 16:9., four-screen video installation, colour, 5:1 sound, Norwegian/Swedish dialogue with English subtitles. Original format: 4K HD, Length: 22:52 min.
Image: still from Drifting