THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE
On the level of content, we associate a barber shop with a half public / half private place, where the relation between a barber and his client can become confident and even intimate, and, to some extent, paradigmatically represents a masculine (and assumedly partly homoerotic) world par excellence. The project The Man Who Wasn’t There doubles this intimate dialogue between men: As an all female organization, THE OFFICE takes the chance of organizing a project at THE BARBER SHOP to dive into the space’s past and create our own image (fantasy) of this world women are no part of.
The Man Who Wasn’t There presents a selection of films and videos, which all deal with men’s (male artist’s) reflections on male role models / stereotypes or on the positions men are assigned to by and in society – and on their ways of playfully widen and undermine these expectations.
The installation preserves the traditional barber shop set-up: three chairs, placed in front of the mirrors, will each meet a monitor, thus creating a one-to-one viewing situation for each viewer (male or female). Each of the monitors displays a different video in two turns.
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Comizi d’Amore (Assembly of Love, 1965), 90 min, Italian with Portuguese/French subtitles
In 1965, the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini travelled his home country from north to south to interview people in the street on the subject of sexuality. Just before the groundbreaking turnover which would shatter the whole Western world a few years later, Pasolini thus draws a detailed and precise image of a country between modernity and tradition – in its metropolises already opening up towards a liberated sexuality and emancipation, in the more remote parts still seemingly living according to a 19th century society, where highly conservative role models still hold valid, sex is only possible inside marriage, and homophobia is widely spread.
Benoît Jacquot: La Psychoanalyse I + II (1974) (Jacques Lacan), 46 / 50 min, French
Today known for his films on the Marquis de Sade (2000) or The School of Flesh (1998), one of the first projects of the French filmmaker Benoît Jacquot was to arrange a conversation between Jacques Lacan, the renowned psychoanalyst and follower of Freud, and his disciple Jacques Alain Miller. Questioned by Miller, Lacan explains the basics of his psychoanalyst theory to the viewer – the national television public. But, instead of giving a popular version of his teachings, Lacan offers opaque statements on affect, psychic energy, and repression in the family in a strange and singular document that is as much about psychoanalysis as it is about the way Lacan performs for TV.
Roman Schramm: Lorenzo Taurino (2007), 22 min, no sound
The video Lorenzo Taurino by the young German artist Roman Schramm features a filmic portrait of a handsome male character, whose facial expression gradually changes as he fights to keep on carrying a heavy object above his head – which is not visible to the viewer. The video is part of a series which quotes and twists some of the common gender-clichés we all live with and which both exposes the constructedness of male images transmitted by the media and reveals the impossibility to be outside of this cycle.
Brock Enright: Red Hanky (2008), 10 min, English
Brock Enright 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 features 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.
William E. Jones: Tearoom, (1962 / 2007), 16mm film transferred to video, silent, 56 min
Tearoom consists of footage shot by the police in the course of a crackdown on public sex in the American Midwest. In the summer of 1962, the Mansfield, Ohio Police Department secretly filmed men in a restroom under the main square of the city. The film they shot was used in court as evidence against the defendants, all of whom were found guilty of sodomy, which at that time carried a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in the state penitentiary. The original surveillance footage came into the possession of William E. Jones while he was researching this case for a documentary project. The unedited scenes of ordinary men of various races and classes meeting to have sex were so powerful that he decided to present the footage with a minimum of intervention.
Nicolás Guagnini: Discharge, (200?), loop, 16 mm transferred to DVD
Nicolás Guagnini’s multifaceted work produces energetic entanglements between seriality and psychohistory, humor and trauma. For the video Discharge, the artist himself experimented with a therapeutic technique by the Austrian-American Wilhelm Reich, known as one of the most radical and controversial figures in psychoanalysis for combining it with Marxist theory. Guagnini lies down on a mattress, applying Reich’s so-called Vegetotherapy to himself. Vegetotherapy involves the patient physically simulating the effects of certain emotions, in the hope of triggering them. Reich argued that the ability to feel sexual love depended on a physical ability to make love with what he called "orgastic potency" – something that very few individuals could achieve, he argued, because of society's sexual oppression.