Monday, October 03, 2005

More Chelsea

Photo of Breitz's installation
And finally we have Candice Breitz at Sonnabend. This is an artist who isn’t difficult to like. Her show consisted of about a dozen flat panels, each playing a video of an individual singing and dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. The gallery was full and everyone was laughing and looking just a little nervous about doing so…what would happen? Would the show turn on them in some way? Would they be implicated? I stayed for what seemed like a run through and it didn’t turn, but it kept me interested. Especially when the song ended and they continued to practice their moves, each of them, eager and not so eager. They were all, in their way, compelling.

But is this just fun? I love that Breitz’s critique of consumerism is framed with her own, obvious energy for that which she critiques. She is as adoring a fan, one would guess, as the viewers of and participants in her art must seem. Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t know the words to Thriller?
But there was more. Another room had a wall of screens, each with a person, an Italian head at that, singing a Madonna song. Wonderful. The concept is perhaps deceptively simple. In allowing participants to enter into and become performers themselves, Breitz gives selected/random folks their fifteen minutes of fame, but also recognizes the interdependency of fan to performance. If no one wants to perform your music, you can't become "Queen".

Here’s another image I found on line from Breitz—no wonder I loved her. And even more so when I realize that I saw another of her shows, "Becoming", last spring, also at Sonnabend. I thought that show was strong too, though it didn’t have the impact of this current one. The notion of stripping performance down to its essence was interesting, but perhaps not quite interesting enough. Or perhaps the subjects chosen didn't interest me? Or perhaps because that's theater's job? Or perhaps because I'm just a bit skeptical in general, when artists seem to rely so heavily on that which is already famous?

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