CURATOR Robert Leonard
Candice Breitz’s video installations explore media stereotypes to address the way identities are created and performed. We present three major projects representing distinct aspects of the Johannesburg-born Berlin-based artist’s work.
The Woods (2012) is a trilogy of installations. Each refers to one of the world’s largest film industries: Hollywood (USA), Bollywood (India), and Nollywood (Nigeria). Breitz says, ‘Each of these cinematic giants maintains its hold on the mainstream by selling us fairly digestible stories that are designed to appease us, to offer us visions of lives that are better, braver, happier, thinner—and, importantly, to keep us coming back for more.’
Breitz interviews Hollywood and Bollywood child actors and Nollywood adult actors who play children. In the work, the child actors play adults, while the Nollywood adult actors who play children are finally presented as the adults they are. Breitz says, ‘Children are always understudies in a sense, observing and aping adults—and the culture of adults—to model themselves into social beings.’
Breitz’s spectacular sixteen-channel work King (A Portrait of Michael Jackson) (2005) presents sixteen Michael Jackson fans performing the entire Thriller album. Breitz chose her subjects from hundreds who responded to advertisements she placed on fan websites and magazines. They were selected for the strength of their obsession with Jackson rather than for their resemblance to him or for their talent. Each was recorded separately and was free to dress, sing and dance as they pleased. Breitz presents the performances in sync, creating a collective choral cover version. She has produced similar works based on Madonna, Bob Marley, and John Lennon. These works attest to the ways fans sample and remix superstar personas in their quest for their own self expression.
In Factum (2010), Breitz interviews identical twins and a set of triplets, juxtaposing and editing the recordings, playing on similarities and differences in what they say and how they say it.