EXPOSED is a film about Katherine, a 35 year old dancer and writer who suffers
from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, a chronic condition caused by exposure
to synthetic chemicals in consumer products, pesticides, building materials,
exhaust, tabacco smoke, perfume, cleaning agents, food additives and others.
While skeptics, particularly in the traditional medical field and the chemical
industry, still question its legitimacy, for Katherine it is a debilitating
everyday reality, forcing her to live outside of the norms of her society.
Katherine developed Chemical Sensitivity after exposure to pesticides, toxic
building materials and long-term natural gas poisoning. In 2000 she fled the
suburban environment of New York and moved to the woods of Western Massachusetts
where she finally found a safer environment to live. Her personal story functions
as a catalyst to reflect on contemporary conditions of American society, its
values and desires, and the complex relation between environment and health.
EXPOSED draws a psychogram of Katherine, a rare close-up look that captures
her isolation and vulnerability in her struggle for medical and financial help,
as well as artistic recognition. She discusses the restrictions of participating
in her community and her vision of human and cultural interrelations in a society
dominated by profit and consumption.
Furthermore Katherine’s portrayal includes her own "home video" footage
documenting her illness over the past 10 years, which allows an intimate insight
into her precarious situation and the psychological effects of living with MCS.
The film is characterized by a personal and intimate dialogue with the subject
that goes far beyond an ethnographic or journalistic eye. In giving a voice to
Katherine, her needs as a woman and as part of a growing community of the chemically
sensitive, the project promotes the individual need for respect, artistic expression
and being part of society. It questions the stigma of disability, and conventional
definitions of success and failure.
EXPOSED crosses borders between video art, documentary film and fiction. Exploring
the frictions between (what we define and accept as) reality and fiction, interpretation
and projection, EXPOSED ultimately reflects on different strategies of representation
and a mediated depiction of reality. The complexity of perception and subjective
reality is further accentuated by the electronic music and sounds that emphasize
the psychological and emotional state of Katherine, creating an additional layer
between reality and fiction.
"…That day: everything was very different.
I couldn’t pretend another minute that it was me, that it was psychological,
that I can deal with this. I was pushed way past the point that I could justify,
rationalize or use any one of the million rationalizations that this culture
feeds in, talks about and lives in every day. That’s why I was saying that
what I want to be true and what this world tells me is true, has no bearing on
reality. Reality is what is; it’s a separate thing. I am chemically sensitive.
There is nothing I can do about it. I’m a female living in 2003, 5 feet
2. There is nothing I can do about it. That’s why I said it took my ego…" (Katherine)
Concept, script, camera, editing: Heidrun Holzfeind
Hi8 footage: Katherine Devoir
Additional footage: Peter Richards, Anderson laboratories,
Music: Susanne Brokesch
Additional tracks: AGF, atomheart, Bjork,
Christine Bard, Bjork, Celia, HP Zinker, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Nine Inch Nails, Fennesz remix by Patrick Pulsinger, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Supersilent, Amon Tobin
produced in collaboration with Katherine Devoir
copyright Heidrun Holzfeind 2005.