Paulien Oltheten

My photos, performances, and videos explore human behavior in public spaces. I create my own walking routines. I go to parks, plazas and streets of big cities for direct observation, finding unique activity, repetitive gestures, routines, particular objects or design elements there. I then connect these events, creating a narrative formalized in words and still and moving images.

Paulien is currently working on a film about Lourdes. The main character of the found footage film Lourdes TV watches the webcam images of the Grotto of the Apparitions for hours every day. She follows with fascination the rigid routines of priests and nuns, how they prepare for Mass. She recognizes returning pilgrims as old acquaintances. The woman with her purple-pink backpack, waving at the webcam every day. Or the man with beret, trying to capture healing energy in various ways. She empathizes with the desire of the visitors who want to touch the cave with their own hands. She watches live as the staff member lights the candles each morning. For a year, this marks her beginning of the day. It gives her a sense of power that she knows what will happen next. But why can’t she separate herself from that, from these people who wholeheartedly cling to faith in the miraculous powers of the Virgin Mary?”

Is there a woman she can no longer reach for herself? A love that has eluded her? Is this where she hopes to understand her friend’s mystical delusions?

A personal story of love, letting go and loss unfolds along the way. Pilgrims come and go: the comfort of strangers 1,300 miles away.