Who would have thought i'd end up blogging about a splatter movie on wmmna? I'm not talking about any horror flick, i'm talking "gay-porn zombie film", a genre which i assume is under-represented in contemporary art. Written and directed by Bruce LaBruce and starring porn actor François Sagat, LA Zombie is on view at the Peres Projects gallery in Berlin, along with a dozen new works on canvas.
It was a bit of a hard core spectacle for someone like me who has no interest nor experience in the genre(s). I'm still wondering how i'll manage to convey the happiness and sense of beauty that the film gave me. There's something respectable about a porn movie that you watch inside a renowned art gallery. You might be shocked but you're never ashamed. Bruce Labruce's other queer cinema horror film Otto; or Up With Dead People debuted at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, the artist has contributed to magazines such as Vice, Index, and BlackBook,
I doubt LaBruce bothers much about making you and me and other art lovers comfortable. Just like Murakami delights in selling his art in both prestigious art galleries and shops merchandising fugly brown monogram bags, LaBruce doesn't seem too eager to drawing a line between art and porn. He told Salon: "All of my work has been about that line. You can situate yourself on either side of the line without really altering the work itself. I could take a picture for Honcho magazine, but can take the same image and put it in a frame in an art gallery, and it becomes art. For me that speaks to the arbitrary nature of those labels." A soft-core version of L.A. Zombie will tour film festivals this year. You can expect to find the hard-core DVD gracing the shelves of your favourite sex shop in the spring.
LA Zombie was shot in Los Angeles. Guerrilla-style. With almost no budget. The main protagonist rises from the sea, with as much clout and allure as Ursula Andress herself in that famous Bond scene. He's a zombie or maybe he's just a bit deranged and fancies himself as an undead creature. He sports canine teeth and is dressed like a homeless. Good looking young guys get killed or die in accidents. He finds them, gives them the fuck of life right into their wound, they open their eyes. They have become zombie too and lead the life of tramps around LA. People don't seem to even notice their presence.
Bruce Labruce LA Zombie: The Movie That Would Not Die runs at Peres Projects in Berlin until April 24, 2010.
A very moving exhibition i saw yesterday morning in Amsterdam:
Every quarter of an hour Ton Grootes, the owner of Sex Cinema Venus in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, changes the Super 8 rushes containing porn films from the Seventies. He doesn't like nowadays's porn. Ladies have inflatable breasts and there's little scenario, actors just arrive on screen and almost immediately, as Grootes says, "Bang!"
Sex Cinema Venus is well past its glory era. Only a handful of loyal customers come nowadays. People pass by, almost always look at the pictures outside the cinema but they don't come in. Still, Grootes opens the cinema every day. He hates to stay home doing nothing.
Sex Cinema Venus seems to be stuck in Super8 time. It is the oldest sex cinema in the Red Light District. Sadly, it will soon disappear as a result of Amsterdam's regeneration plans. It is expected that, soon, the city council of Amsterdam will issue a compulsory purchase note to the sex cinema and will stimulate high-end commercial developments in its place.
If you don't dare to enter the sex cinema and meet its owner and reels, Jan-Dirk van der Burg can help. The young photographer interviewed the cinema owner and documented his work in a series of photos and a slideshow with extracts of the glorious 70s porn movies. You can see them (along with a few vintage posters which i photographed but canceled afterward by mistake from the memory card) at Foam, the Museum of Photography in Amsterdam exhibits
Sex Cinema Venus is on view at Foam in Amsterdam until December 16, 2009.
While in Madrid, i discovered that Santiago Sierra had a show at the Helga de Alvear gallery. I dragged my paracetamols, high fever and microbes out of the bed and headed to Calle Doctor Fourquet. I felt so bad that day i thought nothing Sierra could do would affect me. The show is called Los Penetrados / The Penetrated and it is exactly what you imagine. Sierra hardly ever trifles with subtlety.
October 12th is the National Day of Spain. It used to be called Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) as a celebration of the day Columbus arrived in the Americas, the day Europeans encountered Native Americans. Several countries celebrate October 12th. Over time, however, Día de la Raza took the form in many countries of a counter to Columbus Day. It is used to resist the arrival of Europeans to the Americas and celebrate native races.
On October 12th, 2008, Sierra shot The Penetrated, a series of photographies and a 45 min video in 8 Acts.
Couples are geometrically arranged into compositions of up to 110 bodies with two colours. The Acts feature the various possible combinations of penetrator / penetrated: white man-white woman, white man-white man, white man-black woman, white man-black man, black man-black woman, black man-black man, black man-white woman, black man-white man. The persons' faces have been digitally erased to accentuate the modular character of the actors. A mirror set at an angle behind the actors multiplies the couples and the viewpoints.
The current reality of Spain can be applied to the body patterns.
The theoretical structural geometry of the action is echoed in a weave formed by the 10 blankets on which the successive couples are to be placed. The reality of the proposal is expressed when some of the blankets are left empty in those Acts in which the circumstances did not provide the necessary elements/actors to undertake it. For instance, in Act 3 there are only three couples, given that due to police pressure the majority of women did not turn up. On another note, social and cultural conditioning hampered the appearance of passive black men.
The final element of the action is the penetration and the negative connotation that almost inevitably accompanies it. The title of this work "Los penetrados" [The Penetrated] throws the focus onto the passiveness and submission of the penetrated.
Sierra explains his work as a comment on immigration and racial issues: "The traditional paranoia of white people towards black people or of Europeans towards Africans is linked to a strong phobia. We thinks that sooner or later we will have to pay for our past and present greedy misdeeds. But this white paranoia is also related to the size of the dick or to the fear of a sexuality that demeans us. Our female and males might fall in love with it and that frightens us more than the perspective to lose our jobs, only your boss can take work away from us. The political reflections and the actions that derive from them are more primitive than what is ordinarily thought. Behaviours of racial identity are very animal because we are animals."
Previously: Holocaust installation by Santiago Sierra, Guantanamo museum and other tales of extraordinary rendition at Helga de Alvear gallery in Madrid, Image of the day, All-Inclusive. A Tourist World.
Seen in New York this week and the one before:
Tina Kim Gallery is showing the delightful and eerie Kyung Jeon: a story, 13 works on traditional Korean rice paper that trace the story of a boy and a girl as they descend together into a symbolic world of dark forces and mythic transformation.
Drawing their influences from such disparate sources as children's fairytales, traditional Korean genre painting, and the worlds of Henry Darger and Hieronymus Bosch, Jeon's narrative follows a boy and a girl from the moment they leave their Edenic paradise. Along the journey, they stop at a crossroad and wonder which way, negotiate a labyrinth, meet allies and face enemies.
Totally different is SACRED_PROFANE, a solo exhibition by Alicia Ross at Black & White Gallery.
The images of the Samplers series are downloaded from search engine results, digitally removed from the original background and put through another program that translates its pixels into cross-stitch.
Using the sewing machine like a drawing instrument, Ross customizes the stitches, outlines and colours according to her inspiration. Besides, the line is being blurred between the types of websites that housed the original content. Some of the figures were fished in pornography sites, others were taken from sites that display famous works of art and fashion websites.
Covered in knitted an almost virginal beige yarn and fitted over a prefabricated sex-swing stand, Love Swing speaks to the wavering stability between woman as nurturer and woman as object of sexual desire.
In the Ishihara Test Series videos, web-sourced porn video is fitted into the template for testing color deficiencies. The twist in the work is that men are considerably more prone to colorblindness than women. Hence, Ishihara becomes an ideal mechanism with which to confound the male gaze.
Timely and heroic, the paintings and drawings examine the ongoing Russian/Chechen conflict and his personal and highly political response as a refugee. The series on show at Lehmann Maupin, Chechnya Women's Team of Parachute Jumping and Its Virtual Fans depicts young woman in varying stages of parachuting that recall the segregated teams Kallima observed as a child.
While Russian propaganda maintains that the conflict is over, the Chechen economy has been paralyzed and segregation is still prevalent.
There are very very few artists whose work i admire as much as Nathalie Djurberg's. Actually there's only one and she's a woman too. Her name is Gabríela Fridriksdóttir. These artists create universes which are dark and mysterious. But there stops my desire to compare one with the other.
I don't know what happened to Djurberg since the first time i saw her work, at the 2006 Berlin Biennale but her twisted tales have grown crueler and more menacing .
The protagonists of Djurberg's stop-motion animations are hand-modeled plasticine puppets. If this reminds you of some cute tv programme you followed as a kid then let me crush any nostalgia you might have. Djurberg clearly didn't see the same children animations as you and i. Her animations show human beings at their most crass, psychopath, sadistic and often disarming behaviour. The macabre atmosphere of her animations almost never come with words, just a languid and fidgety music composed by Hans Berg.
It often starts well. In one video, a mother plays in the bedroom with her kids. In a second video, three beautiful girls get naked to take a bath in the pond. A third film shows a pretty eskimo girl walking on thick ice. After a few seconds, the children start disappearing inside their mummy's vagina turning her voluptuous, elastic and Fellini-esque body into a monster creature with multiple arms and legs, the girls chase and burn the young lad who was peeping at their nudity and the eskimo does what any eskimo is supposed to do: she harpoons a walrus, remove its bowels. Only that she won't eat it. She sews herself inside the animal's skin and quietly leaves for a crawl on the icefield.
The videos address a fair amount of intense issues such as violence, sexuality, sadism, cruelty, death and brutality. Made all the more upsetting by the fact that the artist messes with our moral codes and would never point to us where is the right and where is the wrong. She takes us on a roller-coaster and all we can to is try and keep track of our landmarks.
The artists filled the exhibiting space of Fondazione Prada with models that work as counterparts to her videos, there's a huge sprouting potato, the plump bum of a woman, a little house . These models become pavilions inside which the videos are projected.
You have until June 1 to check out the show. Previously at the Fondazione Prada in Milan: Tom Sachs.
All images courtesy of the artist and Fondazione Prada, Milan.