The Lost Days

Teddi DolsWWVF Catalogue, Amsterdam, 2000.

By Teddi Dols

In 1997, Laura Waddington wrote a story about a girl who travelled the world and recorded all her impressions on film. In that same year, the artist contacted native people, as well as ethnic minorities in fifteen countries. She asked them to record their own city with a camera, from the point of view of the protagonist. Waddington made selections from this material, that she then slowed down and coloured.

The vague images, often shot from a car windscreen, show sunlit, snow-covered or blue-shadowed roads, street corners and alley ways in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the Far East seem to follow one another endlessly. Passers-by move past, accompanied by street sounds, soft, murmuring music and the voice of an anonymous woman telling the stories of her travels and reflections on her lover in New York, who is hopefully still waiting for her.

At the start of this fictitious journey that begins in Jaffa, when the woman is about to return home, but changes her mind and resumes her travels, she is still impressed by all the exotic beauty she encounters. Although the filming is a search for the extraordinary features of countless cities, the isolation in which the woman finds herself turns the journey into a quest for her own essence. Again and again, she falls in love with each city she visits. Yet she never knows how to penetrate its soul. She is a stranger passing through, who is not part of the community and to whom the heart of the culture remains hidden.

When all the city images begin to look like one another, both to the protagonist and the viewer, and the woman twice thinks she recognises her beloved on the street, the journey turns out to be a backdrop against which melancholy reminisces and recalls “lost days” with the people from her past. The journey ends in Taipei, where she decides she has recorded enough, gives her camera away and perhaps returns “home.”

Teddi Dols, “The Lost Days”, World Wide Video Festival Catalogue, Amsterdam 2000