Under the title Hope, Trisha Baga illuminated the Fridericianum in Kassel on November 3, 2020, with a film produced especially for the occasion. The work is a reflection on the state of our world today and, more specifically, a commentary on the U.S. presidential election that took place on the same date. Here, the artist, born in Venice, Florida, in 1985 and now living in New York, emphasizes her confidence in the future and ongoing change while remaining acutely aware of the prevailing challenges the world faces, as hope is not just about joyful expectation. The title can also be read as a reference to the political advisor Hope Hicks, who tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020 before the virus was also detected in President Donald Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump.
The approximately thirteen-minute film, which was projected onto the facade of the Fridericianum in an endless loop using a series of powerful projectors, is characterized by a nonlinearity. Its point of departure is a series of shots in which Baga can be seen creating a clay model of the White House—a building that shares similar architectural features with the Fridericianum. These scenes are juxtaposed with footage of the clay replica in ruins. As the film progresses, the wreckage of this edifice becomes a projection screen on which various moving and fragmented images intermittently appear, including snippets showing President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, online news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, forest fires, the opening passage of the U.S. Constitution, speleologists equipped with spotlights, and snails making love. Over and over, the bright light of a scanner travels across the surface of this model of the presidential residence and seat of government, accompanied by the sounds of the data collection device.
Baga’s film reflects the markedly contrasting events, aspects, and moods of the present moment, which combine to form a new sense of unity within the work. The result is an echoing declaration in which, like in most of the artist’s works, the boundaries between film, painting, sculpture, and architecture, between the work of art and its surroundings, blur. The relevance of Baga’s themes is underscored through the work’s specific form of presentation as a widely visible illumination, one that gives rise to a resounding call for both hope and action.