July 2 – 08, 2017
Official opening: 1 July 2017 (20:00 u)
Finissage: 8 july with closing act by HYPNOSKULL
wo 05-07 / 19:00-22:00
do 06-07 / 19:00-22:00
vrij 07-07 / 19:00-23:00
BLEEK Art Space, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
Curator: Dasha Birukova (video curator, NCCA, Moscow, Russia)
Participants: Mike Kuchar, Smash TV (Brendan Shields and Ben Craw), Luke Waytt (USA), Tobias Bernstrup (Sweden), Daniel Pflumm (Switzerland), Erkka Nissinen (Finland), AES+F, Pirate TV, Sara Culmann, Alexander Zaloopin, Dmitry Kavko, XYXY BANK (Russia).
Back in 1964, Susan Sontag wrote in her “Notes on Camp” that there is a sort of sensuality, “a kind of perversion, but unlikely to identify with it – known as the cult, called camp”. Such sensuality that is reflected in the love of the unnatural, the artificial and the exaggerated, which embodies the triumph of “style” over “content, “aesthetics” over “morality”, irony over tragedy. Camp begins to inspire once you realize that “sincerity” is not sufficient in itself. A new aesthetic standard is introduced:artificiality and theatricality as an ideal. The sensitivity of the camp is eesentially possible only in societies of abundance, in a society or circles that are capable of experiencing the psychopathology of abundance.
50 years later, essentially nothing has changed, and camp continues to exist in art and in popular culture, moreover, it continues to be a kind of worldview. In a situation of total dominance of text in culture, there is an acute shortage of visual sensuality, and a redundancy coupled with pretentiousness reflect this new sensibility.
Bad taste, which on the one hand is perceived as boastworthy, and, on the another, as something one can indulge in, has now been transformed into a cliché as an aesthetic model, and the cliché became a product. The concept of “taste” has ceased to be a meaningful category, and bad taste has become the object of veneration, a new aesthetic object, based on the distinction between high culture and mass media. Examples of high culture have been transformed into popular culture and have become options of clichéd images. For instance, Wagner’s music became the leitmotif of Darth Vader, and reproductions of Kandinsky appeared on the packaging of toothbrushes. Beauty became a vulgarity, and vulgarity ceased to be something vicious due to camp. An important step was made towards investigating the boundaries of taste. Camp transforms everyday items into objects of worship, turning them into works of art. Camp is a cult, based on an alternative sensibility.
In a film ‘Sins of the Fleshapoids’ (1965) by a pioneer of American Camp Mike Kuchar, the director denounces the capitalist vices of humanity. It is a low-budget, campy sci-fi movie about an android revolt a million years in the future after humans have become too lazy and selfish to take care of themselves.
Daniel Pflumm is a video and media artist from Germany. He works with logos and trademarks of multinational companies, which he distills down to abstract images and characters. He creates graphics, layouts and merchandising for companies that do not exist, like fictional company strategies in the context of art. The ’polished‘ aesthetics of his visual structures is measured by the standards of modern advertising strategies and marketing products.
In the ‘Walking Ego’ by Tobias Bernstrup we see Bernstrup’s digital alter ego, dressed in a robotic costume with breasts, walking endlessly towards the viewer.
Smash TV and Luke Waytt were born out of the supercut and mashup cultures which flourished throughout the 2000’s as professional editing software became available to the masses. With Youtube and Vimeo providing platforms to easily share long forgotten video footage, re-contextualized video soon became abundant. Smash TV’s goal is to make cohesive longform VJ mixes using nostalgic footage from their childhood. Borrowing heavily from the hypercolor “in your face” aesthetic of 80s MTV, Smash TV is a vague memory of a childhood spent glued to the television, combining retro electronic music with hyper editing and bright visuals.
In the piece by Russian group AES + F “Le Roi des Aulnes (The King of the Forest)” artists are turning to the subject of psychopathology of media. The circle of projects «The King of the Forest» – is series of performances in different countries (Russia, Egypt, USA etc.) The project of AES+F group concerns the theme of contemporary children’s corporations, modifying by human civilization of 3rd millennium using new, just technological methods.
The programme “Pirate TV” founded in 1989 by Juris Lesnik, Vladik Mamyshev-Monroe and Timur Novikov (Moscow correspondent was Sergey Shutov), was an alternative television, which was created by simulating the state structure shows, doubling their messages.
The project of gay-chansonnier Alexander Zaloopin is a fictional character of pop culture, whose works used various clichés of Russian chanson (criminal music culture) and pop music.
In the video by the Russian artist Sara Culmann “36 Views of Moscow-City”, a series of engravings of Hokusai is taken as a conceptual framework for creating a system of 36 observation points for the Moscow-City (the “sacred hill” of modern Moscow, an ambitious never-ending construction project), set on the nearby empty business centers.
The video by the Russian anonymous art group XYXY BANK “Green on Red” depicts a real relationship between artists in Russian art community with all its cruelty and envy.
The Russian artist Dmitriy Kavko presents a computer game/virtual gallery which allows viewing the art pieces from different perspectives, staying near them and feeling their scale. The game has no plot or purpose in the traditional sense. Only contemplation and impressions.
Erkka Nissinen in his video / musical journey “VANTAA” tells an incredible story of the search of a stolen yoghurt by Arnold Schoenberg, with Karlheinz Stockhausen being the prime suspect.
*The title of the exhibition refers to John Waters’ movie “Pink Flamingos”, one of the main figures in camp cinema.
The opening of the exhibition will include performances by
Alexey Kokhanov (Russia/Germany) and Rachid Laachir (Belgium).