The 99th Letter

2022HD video (aspect ratio 4:3), 4:30, stereo

Video collage with footage from the movie ‚Dangerous Liaisons‘ (Stephen Frears, 1988). The film is based on the epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre-Ambroise-François Choderlos de Laclos. In the depicted courtly, patriarchal society in 18th century France, legal subordination of the woman to the man, as well as longing for love, sexual need and unfulfilled lives of noble women are exploited. The video collage focuses on psychological aspects and actions of the two main characters Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil: self love, will to power, rivalry and submission. For both, sexuality and seduction are above all means of power struggle and self-affirmation. The title The 99th Letter refers to the 99th letter in the novel, which (together with the next letter) particularly clearly reveals Valmont‘s narcissism and will to power. The sound is a heavily slowed-down excerpt from the aria Hell‘s vengeance boils in my heart, sung by the Queen of the Night in the opera The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart. The opera dates from the same period as the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and in both the strong female protagonist is demonised.