Born 2B Cute, 2007
Mobile phone photo
Mobile phone photo
I was strolling through a suburban Westfield (my favourite of art spaces) and encountered this shiny installation. Very Kingpins, I thought. Who'd have ever thought the acid house smiley face would make a comeback precisely 20 years on. But how appropriate, how artworld are such comebacks. The remixing of pop histories is very much a present day concern, exemplified by artists like The Kingpins, Soda_Jerk, Ms & Mr, Spat + Loogie, Motel Sisters. Exhibiting with your actual name is so last decade - it's so much more zeitgeist to invent a funky moniker to match your funky artwork. I called deed poll to ask their opinion about all of this and spoke to a woman called Tap Water. She said,"ask me no questions, I tell you no lies". Hmmm cryptic, I thought. (Just as well she didn't call herself Tap Gallery - that place makes my skin crawl). One thing Tap Water did shed light on is that it's against the law to change your name to a conjunction (joining words like"and", "for" or "or"). Shame if you're a text artist.
I was so inspired by the Westfield installation - partly because everything was so cheap - that I made my way from there to The Kingpins opening at Kaliman Gallery on Thursday night (4 October). There's no point going to see their show unless you go on opening night because the whole point of their practice is the party involved. As I'm fairly shallow at the best of times I like artists who aren't afraid to make partying their medium of choice. And what a party it was. Check out the opening night photos at the new and very trendy Kaliman Gallery Blogspot. I'm standing just behind the wig sculpture in case you're wondering.
So who are The Kingpins? All you need to know is that they're a supercrazygirlfoursome who remix history with such garish kitschy aplomb it makes your rectum bleed sequins. Known mainly for their music video like works, The Kingpins' new stuff depicts Azaria Chamberlain as if she was a 27 year old trapped in a Bollywood world. I don't know about you, but I've always wondered what Azaria would be doing now if she was alive. Last time I visited Psychic Sue, she told me Azaria is very much alive: she lives in our hearts. What an uplifting thought. In the universe of The Kingpins, Azaria is trapped on canvas. Yes, trapped in a painting. Like all good rockstars between albums, The Kingpins have given the music video production team annual leave and commissioned sign painters from India. The blurb at the Kaliman blog says:
To produce the paintings the Kingpins travelled to India to work with Bollywood cinema and sign painters, Muthu Arts and Kumar Arts of Pondicherry. This collaboration allowed the Kingpins to explore a history of cinematic advertising, famous for its hyper-real palette and incredible technical skill. The resulting pastiche is a mesmerising combination. Mothered by dingoes and fathered by popular culture, Azaria Chamberlain appears before us as a fantasy woman, legendary figure of the Australian outback in full-blown Bollywood colour.
I suppose the blog isn't going to say: The Kingpins are now making paintings because they are easier for a commercial gallery to sell. But come to think of it, video art is selling like hotcakes these days. So much so it makes me wonder if there's a bootleggy kind of black market out there trading Shaun Gladwells. Just picture it: a nervous crackwhore bootlegger in Chinatown with his pirated video art copies spreadout on a tressle table: "For you two dollar".
What else have I seen this week? Well video art and the whole persona thing (usually) done by the likes of The Kingpins is the subject of the MOP show Multiple Personality. I've been meaning to see this show since it opened as a PDF of its catalogue was emailed to The Artswipe by curator, Daniel Mudie Cunningham. Referring to The Art Life, The Artswipe, Skanky Jane, and Art & Mayhem, he writes in the catalogue text, "Persona is evidently multiple in an online context as it relies less on the accountability of the word made flesh." Nice one DMC.
Multiple Personality is an entertaining show that positions veteran legends like the Luke Roberts/Pope Alice nexus alongside new stars like Matthew Hopkins and Sari TM Kivinen (both of whom have been the subject of older Artswipe posts. See here for Hopkins and here for Kivinen). The video work by Ms & Mr is a highlight that shows the artists remixing their childhood home videos so that present day Mr appears in video footage of a school play performance by Ms. Think Twin Peaks meets Degrassi Junior High. Their video at MOP has a similar vibe to Videodromes for the Alone: The Lovecats, 1991/2007 - showcased in Heavy Sentimental, their wonderful debut show for Kaliman Gallery in June 2007. If I get bored of partying as my medium, I'm going to take a page out of the Ms & Mr guidebook to life and make marriage my medium of choice. Why not? It's multi-tasking at its best. "Babe can you take out the trash?" "Sure sweetie, but wait, let me grab the camcorder, bin night hasn't been examined yet in our practice".
I'm sure my little Mrs - Skanky Jane - won't mind taking out the trash.