Action Number 6 (2010)
Action No. 6 is an ongoing, durational performance inspired by the notorious footage of American business man, Nick Berg, who was filmed just before his beheading; originally executed by members of Al-Qaeda as a worldwide event, and streamed live for millions on the Internet.
Wearing yellow clothes and a giant yellow ball on his head, in Action No. 6, Tati portrays the character on the brink of his assassination, knelt down on the ground with his hands bound, before his assassins, who rigidly stand behind him. The scene includes Tati’s recitation of words that identify him, unlike the speech uttered by Pearl, prior to his own gruesome decapitation. Then, one of the “assassins” proceeds to read excerpts from a radically right wing speech, which Tati found posted onto an online talk back. This way, Tati sheds light on the idea that excessively right-wing systems of government-where rampant censorship and unyielding aggression reign supreme—are just a hair way from being the kinds of systems that allow scenarios such as this to regularly occur.
Inspired by the concept of a video loop, Action No. 6 plays out as a repeating five-minute ‘performance loop’, for a consecutive three hours. By doing so, Tati aims to explore the effects of what physically happens to the performers after three hours of such repetitive activity; their bodies, their voices. Thus, pushing the boundaries of the medium itself.
Moreover, Tati seeks to explore the shift that occurs when images—such as that of a man on the brink of his own slaughter—come alive into action, into an actual scene that plays out before one’s very eyes; becoming more than a snapshot of a visual memory, actually transforming into a moment in time.
When hideous events transpire in history, the question: Why didn’t art react to that? Is inevitably asked. Action No. 6 aims to serve as such a reaction—one that reflects not only on the innately horrific nature of Berg’s execution, but more so on the prevalence of the media that made the documentation and distribution of this iconic scene such a critical piece of modern society’s visual language. As a society, which is repeatedly confronted with violence, we are collectively numbed and desensitized to the day-to-day brutality that often defines our world.
According to Tati, the place of art is to resituate the image back into the collective radar of the people, not only to help them remember certain key images and scenarios that have marked our often barbaric world, but to also to help the people emotionally and spiritually digest and process of a visual experience.