Philippe BOBER (Parisienne de Production), Susanne MARIAN (Essential Filmproduktion), Sarah NAGEL (Essential Filmproduktion)
The USSR, 1988. The Perestroika is at its peak. A Paris modern art museum hires Walerian, a film director on the decline and prone to baroque mises en scenes, to lead a river expedition in Siberia. An indigenous people untouched by all outside contact has been discovered, and Walerian is to film their reactions to four modern works of art. Armed with indifference toward these artworks but excited by the prospect of exposing his own to a virgin gaze, Walerian plans to achieve his greatest work to date with the help of his son and cameraman Dante. Under the relentless heat of the Siberian summer, the boat slowly glides into contact with hostile insects and vegetation. Just as he approaches the end of the mission, Walerian puts it to an end: Duchamp’s urinal drowns, the Klein is devoured by ants, the Picabia is stolen and the Tinguely is disassembled to repair a motor. Walerian’s son betrays him by sharing a bed with the American actor the museum made him hire, and the tribe, too, is far from innocent. Despite the mutilation of Dante’s eyes, Walerian falls asleep by filming the decomposition of the Klein work, frame by frame. During the film’s projection, strange silhouettes appear on the screen, gathering around to contemplate the painting: without him knowing, Walerian has accomplished his mission.