Perro Corazón

Toni Serra / Abu Ali

For this piece Toni Serra puts us right in the middle of a bar in Tangier, called La poste. Sitting around a table, we can hear the conversations that the artist is having with the Tangerian writer Mohammed Chukri and the New York poet Ira Cohen. Without leaving the bar at any point, the words that these two character leave floating in the air manage to open up different spaces for us, in which, for the 25 min that the piece lasts, we can let go. Another character is also present, who we cannot see but who nevertheless converses with us, someone sitting at the table where memories become words, and words become images that our imagination distorts. This third guest has indeed a name: William Burroughs.

Why are your clothes so dirty? Because I am a dog.

Toni Serra recorded Perro Corazón in Tangier in 1998. The evening is falling, we are in a bar like any other, a conversation is taking place. Stories cross the screen before our eyes, all kinds of stories. Stories which slowly and gradually expand the interior space of the video, until a vast terrain is created where ideas flow freely, without borders, nor limits.

Misencounters and losses are mixed with drugs whilst a song, “apocalypse across the sky” is heard in the background. “For me, that is life” says at one point Mohammed Chukri, “a surrealist dream”.

What if Borroughs was right and language was indeed a virus? “Borroughs was a nice guy, and a very good person, yet people were afraid of him”, says to the camera the poet Ira Cohen, who was Burroughs’ companion in a few of his adventures. If he was right, then broadcasting wouldn’t be more than a medium to broadcast further, another addictive drug. If you try to use the drug as a medium for something else, you’ll realise that it’s not an easy thing, the drug serves its purpose, just like language.

The broadcaster doesn’t like to chat. The broadcaster is not a human being. He is the Human Virus. According to Burroughs, human beings are alienated by language. He thinks of language (and the grammar and syntax rules which characterise it) as a parasitic organism, a virus which has chosen our minds as its habitat. Language (and reason more so) squashes down our real nature, and creates a universe for us in which time, death and all of our ills, exist.

The problem gets complicated because those infected don’t know they are. According to Burroughs’ own analogy, “the perfect prison is that in which you don’t know that you are imprisoned”. For Burroughs, language is a perfect prison, one that seems incredibly big and spacious. Nevertheless, it only lets you reach the point that its own combinations and sequences allow for, leaving the real territory of the human mind beyond it, which is space but not time.

It is precisely within this space that this piece of Toni Serra takes place, uncovering a few ideas from beneath the opaque blanket that language covers life with. This video follows Burroughs in his attempt at destroying the syntax and semantic rules of language, without in so doing loosing the sense of the narration.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Perro Corazón
  • Direction: Toni Serra / Abu Ali
  • Production: Me Pierdo Productions. 1998.
  • Duration: 00:28:49
  • Languages: Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Original format: Mini DV
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright