SANDY AMERIO at V Tape (401 Richmond West, #452), to March 3. 416-351-1317. Rating: NNN
The lacklustre productivity of disenfranchised corporate employees is nothing a good fable can't improve. Or so goes the wisdom of corporate storytelling, a decade-old technique that seems both obvious and bizarre.
Paris-based artist Sandy Amerio stretches the logic of this phenomenon to dreadful extremes in her 2004 video Hear Me, Children-Yet-To-Be-Born.
Shot in the barren American Southwest, it begins with the words "Once upon an economy...." Dawn creeps over the desert while a husky voice-over retells the story of Genesis in a monologue littered with corporate lingo: God is a CEO who teaches the monkeys storytelling so they'll work harder.
The rest of the 45-minute romp follows a man and woman traipsing around the desert in full business attire. The man narrates a tale about having to sacrifice the woman, his wife and co-worker, upon hearing the voice of God. He leads her across the salt pan to the dunes, where he attacks her, first in the guise of a strident evangelical preacher, then regressing into an angry, violent ape. Both actors put in fantastic performances.
Outside an abandoned gold mine, he reveals to us his adultery in an austere golden shower scene with a young lover. He then re-enacts the Biblical story of Lot and his family escaping from Sodom and Gomorrah, with himself cast as Lot, a scene vaguely referencing 9/11.
Lot didn't leave his wife because she was turned into a pillar of salt, the voice tells us. He left her in order to be more productive.
While the complex story weaves several threads to provocative effect, the improvised action at times becomes a little careless, as though it were filler for the inspired voice-over.
Overall, Amerio cuts deep into the heartless cost-benefit analysis of corporate storytelling, and her experimental approach pays off.