The film traces the history of airplane hijackings as portrayed by mainstream television. Grimonprez composed the film of archival footage material — interspersing found footage, clips from science fiction films, diplomatic training films, reportage shots, airline promotional films, home video and reconstituted scenes. The central narrative is juxtaposed with references to the Cold War and passages from Don DeLillo's novels Mao II and White Noise. The film denounces the media spectacle and attempts to detect the impact of images on our knowledge, memory and feelings. Examining the great amount of information available via the media, Grimonprez acknowledges the unseen and hidden events. Events that can never or rarely be recorded. He shows the spectator the potential impossibility of recording and documenting historical fact.
Partly affiliated with Dial H.I.S.T.O.R.Y. is a sequence of portraits of hijackers by Grimonprez – titled No Man’s Land: Politics in the Sky – Skyjackers’ Series - that are exhibited in the gallery for the first time. Both the film as the concept of portraying hijackers is based upon Don DeLillo’s unthinkable idea that terrorists have made the writer’s role in society obsolete. Terrorists are able to play the media more cleverly, DeLillo said. In his work Grimonprez exposes painfully the hijacking of reality by the media. Portraits of hijackers as movie stars that filled the newspaper headlines hide the hidden organisation, training and terrorist indoctrination they underwent.
Johan Grimonprez's curatorial projects have been exhibited at museums worldwide, such as at the Hammer Museum (LA), the Pinakothek der Moderne (Munich) and, the MOMA (NY). His works are part of the permanent collections of major museums, including the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), the Kanazawa Art Museum (Japan), Tate Modern (London), The National Gallery (Berlin) and Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam). In 2011/2012 Grimonprez received a retrospective at S.M.A.K. (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst), Gent, Belgium. His newest work ‘Shadow World’ (global arms trade) premiered at Tribica Filmfestival in New York and will be part of IDFA2016 at De Balie, Amsterdam. Flatland presented the work of Grimonprez in 2012 with ‘I may have lost forever my umbrella’ during Art Rotterdam; in 2013 with ‘Looking for Alfred’ at the first edition of Paris Photo Los Angeles; and in 2016 as part of the group show GARDENING in the gallery in Amsterdam.