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Leanne Amodeo

Laurent Mulot, Stairway 2 Heaven Laurent Mulot, Stairway 2 Heaven
photo Laurent Mulot
Three years ago, French artist Laurent Mulot took a train to Cook on the Nullarbor Plain. During a rest stop, he and the other passengers were drawn into the abandoned ‘ghost town’ experience maintained by Great Southern Railways and the town managers, Ivor and Janet Holberton. They explored deserted buildings, the abandoned shop and hospital, the golf course and a school where Mulot found some children’s drawings illustrating the habits of local fauna and, underneath, the sentence, “They come out at night” which he has used as the title for his multimedia installation exhibited as part of this year’s Adelaide Fringe.

Inspired by the strange initial experience, Mulot returned to Cook in 2003 for a 10 day visit. Using still photographs, video and sound, he documented the visitors who arrive by train and explore the small isolated town during the 90 minute stopover as well as the few remaining locals who receive them.

The central focus of the installation is a large-scale projection of the train’s visit accompanied by a soundtrack in which Mulot musically arranges the various comments on the town that he’s collected. While the name of the town is repeated rhythmically to echo the sound of the train, someone says that in Cook; “there’s no life, there’s no laughter.” Meanwhile, across 10 monitors to the side of the projection, we are shown Mulot’s images of Cook, revealing a certain beauty in their geometric composition. These are repeated in the form of photocopies strewn across the floor. Striking as some of these images are, this presentation does them no justice. The audience is left to step around them while being careful to avoid the dead trees suspended from the ceiling. These ‘found objects’ overstate the point and would probably have been best left in the ground.

The various components of the installation struggle to come together in a resolved manner and seem clumsy when viewed as a whole. The ‘ghost portraits’ (double-images of the tourists) that line the wall upon entry are interesting and the video is strangely engaging. In slow motion and other manipulations it captures the anticipation of the train’s arrival and the stillness once it’s departed, conveying Mulot’s theme in one frame, without distractions.

They Come Out At Night, Step One is a work-in-progress. Step Two will be exhibited at Fremantle Arts Centre, Steps Three and Four in Lyon and Paris. To watch the work unfold go to

Laurent Mulot, They Come Out at Night, Step One, Light Square Gallery, Adelaide, Adelaide Fringe, Feb 18-March 24, Fremantle Arts Centre, May 22-June 20

RealTime issue #60 April-May 2004 pg. 35

© Leanne Amodeo; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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