The Don Quixote Complex

Lena Séraphin, Andrea Meinin Bück & Don Quixote Complex

2011, Kluuvi Gallery, Helsinki Art Museum

B/W images from the archive of the Imperial War Museum in London images H27203, H27201, H27202) and the archive of the Finnish Defence Forces in Helsinki (images 99485,128802,128819).

Around ten years ago I saw an article about an Austrian photographer, Andrea Meinin Bück (b. 1968).

At the time, Meinin Bück worked as a photographer for the foundation Vera Incessu Patuit Dea. Her job was to document European cultural heritage with a focus on buildings under threat of demolition.

In her work, she got to know cultural heritage sites that were threatened because of aggressive new construction and inadequate resources for renovation. She became increasingly disillusioned about the factors that drove the preservation of cultural values. Her burning interest resulted in radicalisation.

On one tragic night thirteen years ago, good intentions led to shocking consequences. Since 2001, Meinin Bück has been serving a life sentence for the murder of a French property shark.

I became interested when I read about the clearly intelligent and competent professional whose life took such an ill-fated turn. I contacted her to find out more. During our ten-year correspondence we have been able to share things that we consider important. We have discussed the Don Quixote Complex, a state where fact and fiction get mixed up. In the novel written in the early 1600s by Miguel de Cervantes, the protagonist Alonso Quijano assumes a new identity in order to act according to the ideals he has adopted from chivalric romance novels. Meinin Bück, too, acted according to her ideals, believing that she was taking society to a better direction, but her dedication carried her to a borderline state. This exhibition tells about the journey to the destructive borderline and the way back to reality – a reality that frightens Meinin Bück. According to the laws in Austria, she can appeal to be released on parole in 2014.

“I don’t need to give in to senseless intentions anymore, but it is difficult to distinguish what is real and what isn’t, to be who you are without assuming a role,” she says.

The exhibition is part of Lena Séraphin’s doctoral thesis for the Aalto University School of Art and Design. Thanks to: Arts Council of Finland (media art division) and Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.

Intruders are Paid in Marble

2002, Leena Kuumola Gallery, Helsinki

In March 1999 the Austrian photographer Andrea Meinin Bück was arrested for the murder of Michel le Boeuf. Meinin Bück had the preceding year travelled to Arbresle in southeast France on a commission by the foundation Vera Incessu Patuit Dea (VIPD) to document European cultural heritage on the verge of abolition. Her mission was to photograph the 18th century Louis XV style castle, the Château Guereule. According to what was primarily stated in 1998 a tragic accident changed the curse of events. A spring mistral cut all electricity supply and a large part of the telephone landlines in the entire Rhóne district where mute. During very heavy nightly rain Le Boeuf volunteered to ensure the wellbeing of Meinin Bück and her two assistants, Jean-Paul Klevemühle and Steven Aldrich, at the Château Guereule. He was mistaken for an intruder. Le Boeuf died of hemorrhage and scull fractures due to blows by a blunt object. In February 1999 the truth was retold. Numerous cross-examinations with Meinin Bück and her assistants led to horrid conclusions. The three appointed guests had played a morbid psychological game and a throw of dice had chosen the winner to take fatal action. Andrea Meinin Bück has been sentenced to serve lifetime. The video installation Intruders Are Paid in Marble is based on written interviews with Meinin Bück and is a reconstruction of the events. The material is filmed on location in the now abandoned Château Guereule.

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