HOME ALONE: SOME PROPOSALS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH ITIt’s winter in Berlin, the darkest time of the year. Time for complaints and for depression. Time for being desolate and at home, alone. But not a time to dwell on this! The videos presented this night at e-flux look at the domestic as a site for behavior that reaches from eccentric to perverted, from playful to disturbing.
The six videos are losely connected by one or both parts of the night’s theme – HOME respectively ALONE. Drawing upon the double-edged comprehension of ‘home’ as a possible refuge, a place to withdraw from public / professional life to just be private or to play around, live out one’s personal obsessions, desires and excesses, to the other side of being home alone as being lonely and unrelated to a community and social life.
David Bestué / Marc Vives (* 1980/1978, Spain), Acciones en Casa, 2005 (33 min, here: excerpt of 10 min)
Brock Enright (* 1976, USA), Red Hanky, 2008 (10 min)
Ulrike Rosenbach (* 1943, Germany),Tying Julia, 1972 (5 min)
Harry Dodge/Stanya Kahn (* 1966/1968, USA), Let the Good Times Roll, 2004 (15 min)
Martin Dammann (* 1965, Germany), Collecting Militaria Gives You Something to Talk About, 2006 (17 min)
Alexander Calder (1898-1976, USA), The Circus, 1961, shot by Carlos Vilardebó (19 min)
The two Spanish artists David Bestué and Marc Vives have been collaborating on a series of “actions” for several years now. At different concrete or symbolic sites like public space, home, the body or the universe they create surrealist situations which draw our attention to overlooked connections between ourselves and the surrounding world. Actions at Home is an absurd play with the performative qualities of the domestic, using everyday materials as props, revealing their formerly undiscovered potential for play and chaos.
Brock Enright, on the other hand, is exploring the perverse fantasies hidden behind bourgeois normalcy, elicitating them and bringing them to the surface by using people’s exhibitionist tendencies, respectively their urge for attention: He stages meticulously planned scenarios following the instructions of his ‘customers’, the protagonists of his videos, who pay for the artists’ services.
Red Hanky stages a stereotypical gay prostitution scene of a horny, overweight customer (with money) hitting on two young guys. By relocating the situation from a public into a private surrounding, the client is both protected and mercilessly exposed to the camera at the same time.
Realized in 1972 as one of her first videos, Ulrike Rosenbach’s body actionTying Julia can be considered one of the paradigmatic works introducing domestic (female) subjects into the art context (even a few years before Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen, 1975). Rosenbach, nude to her waist, sits in front of the camera together with her naked daughter Julia, wrapping the two of them together with bandages, making corporeal processes visible by the means of a static camera wich is recording them in close-shots.
The US American West-Coast context, in which Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn live and work, oftentimes builds the foil for displaying their quasi-documentary videos dealing with themes like hedonism and Hollywood or the search for recognition and meaning. Let the Good Times Roll features the fictional character Lois (performerd by Kahn) stranded in a motel somewhere outside of L.A., reporting an accidental companion her last night’s party-odyssee experiences, desperately trying to amuse herself to actually “feel” something.
Collecting Militaria... departs from a similar urge: somewhere in the Mid West, Martin Dammann interviews a devotee of militaria in a hotel/motel room aside one of the big trading fairs that attract all kinds of collectors, professionals, freaks. Able to speak for a quarter of an hour about a single SS helmet from Nazi times, it becomes clear that for many of the people there, these well preserved fetishes become the common object for a community which – looked at from the outside – appears rather exotic.
One of the major work complexes of Alexander Calder is his extensive puppet Circus with its tiny wire performers, ingeniously articulated to walk tightropes, dance, lift weights and engage in acrobatics in the ring. The Parisian avant-garde would gather in Calder’s studio to see the circus in operation. This film by Carlos Vilardebó exudes the great personal charm of Calder himself, moving and working the tiny players like a ringmaster, while his wife winds up the gramophone in the background.