François Bucher (Columbia/ US)

François Bucher lives and works in Berlin (the exhibited work will be 2 DVDS looped, 1 video projection, one monitor without sound and real size copies of four newspaper front-pages)

Forever Live, the Case of K. Gun

The work consists of a telephone transmission where Katharine Gun interprets a text live via telephone. She has previously received a Chinese translation of Franz Kafka's text "Before the Law" which she interprets to English. The audio is accompanied by a projected image of a person listening on the telephone while looking out of a window onto the United Nations building in New York.

Katharine Gun formerly worked as a translator at G.C.H.Q., (the British Government's eavesdropping centre). In the weeks leading up to the Iraq War, at a time when the U.N. was still considering whether to pass a second resolution authorizing war, she disclosed that the American National Security Agency had asked the British Government to help in the illegal surveillance of the six delegations holding the balance of power in the U.N. Security Council. The goal of this surveillance was to have as much information as possible to influence the delegates into voting for a war resolution ("the whole gamut of information that could give U.S. policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals or to head off surprises."). Gun subsequently faced a trial and a near certain conviction for violating the Official Secrets Act, however, she was acquitted by the British government. The reason was clear: Katharine Gun's trial would have immediately become a trial on the war's legality.

There are two sides to the process that Katharine Gun underwent, which make her a particularly interesting subject of the law. Told in abstract terms, firstly this is a person who broke the law by being true to an ethical calling (broke the law in not breaking it) and secondly, was left outside the law when her case threatened to throw a light on the illegal actions of the very beholders of the law that reigned over her - the sovereign government of Great Britain.

Kafka's text "Before the Law" is the story of a man from the country who comes to the "doors of the law" and waits until the end of his life for admittance. As he is about to die he manages to conjure up the question that eluded him for all those years in front of the guarded, yet open door that he couldn't traverse: "If this is the door of the Law, why is it that no one else came?" to which he gets an answer from the implacable and seemingly immortal guard: "because this door was only open for you, I am now going to shut it".

The aim of this work involves activating Gun's job as a translator in order to create an exchange between her own biography and the allegorical powers at play in Kafka's text.