The guide and the seeing man

video stills from single channel video with audio, 32:00 min, 2008

The primary attraction of the cross-cultural dress is the promise of ‘transgressive’ pleasure without the penalties of the actual change. Such metamorphosis does little to subvert existing power hierarchies, since the cross dresser may always reveal or revert to the white identity underneath the native clothes. (Gail Ching-Liang Low, White Skins/Black Masks: The Pleasures and Politics of Imperialism)

The film follows the stories of a Danish backpacker and a Tibetan tourist guide. The backpacker describes his attempts to illegally cross the Tibetan border in order to travel independently in the country. The guide describes his attempts to cross the Tibetan border in the opposite direction; escaping Tibet in the hope of going to school in India. These narratives are interrupted by the story of the video artist who sets out to do a critical work about tourism in Tibet. In different ways the three of them all fail with their projects, their subject positions are in continual negotiation and interconnected not seldom in situations of complicity and ambivalence. The film also offers an account of the long history of explorers, colonizers and adventurers who have tried to reach Tibet’s capital Lhasa in disguise. Clothes act as signifiers of pleasure and desire while simultaneously enabling surveillance and conquest. The title’s “seeing man” is borrowed from Mary Louise Pratt who uses the term to describe the European male subject implicit in European landscape discourse; he whose eyes passively surveys and possess, while maintaining an “innocent” position.

watch excerpts from the video

Åsa Elzén




Forest Calling – A Never-ending Contaminated Collaboration

or Dancing is a Form of Forest Knowledge /

Skogen kallar – Ett oändligt kontaminerat samarbete eller

Dansandet är en form av skogskunskap

    – Extension #2 at The Experimental Field, Accelerator, SU

    – Extension #1 In Forest Intervals

Notes on a Fallow – The Fogelstad Group and Earth /

Träda – Fogelstadgruppen och jord

    – A Growing Fallow Archive / Ett växande träda-arkiv

    – Biography of a Fallow / En trädas biografi

    – Transcript of a Fallow / Avskrift av en Träda

    – Boy! / Pojken!

    – Fogelstad Fågelstad Fågelsta Fågelholk Fågelbo

    – The Other School / Den andra skolan

    – A Growing Archive on the Women’s Barn and Livestock

    School at Fogelstad / Ett växande arkiv över Kvinnliga

    Ladugårdsutbildningen vid Fogelstad

    – A Step to the Side / Ett steg åt sidan

    – A Growing Peace with the Earth Collection

    – Transcript of Transcripts: Elin – Bang /

    Avskrifter av avskrifter: Elin – Bang

    – Why do things when you could leave it? – An attempt,

    an in-between land / Varför gör man saker då man kunde

    låta bli? – Ett försök, ett gränsland

While I am trying to get to know Fredrika, I am always

thinking of you.

Memory of an Event

    – Memory of an Event I (Dear Honorine / Dearest Signe)

    – Memory of an Event II

History History

The Collaboration: MS and AL

Mary Wollstonecraft’s Scandinavian journey 1795 re-traced

    – The Glade I

    – The Glade II

    – Who Fooled Whom?

YES! Association/Föreningen JA!

    – A New Spelling of a Street – A tribute to Audre Lorde

    – All that you touch You Change. All that you Change

       Changes you.


    – (art)work(sport)work(sex)work

    – Zyklische Gesellschaftsreise


    – We Will Open a New Front/Lee H. Jones

    – (Dis)agreements?

    – When hell froze over

The guide and the seeing man

Project Description

I’ll be you if you’ll be me

A year of sisterhood

Getting Dressed

Bollywood Basketball