Representative of the Postproduction generation, Candice Breitz uses sampling, the cut up, appropriation and piracy as new creative mediums. Hence the resulting artworks have in common as much their fascination with images produced by mass media - magazine advertising, music videos, soap operas, Hollywood Films, as a certain critical distance. Neon Bible is articulated around neon like a mini-exhibition, with works by Kendell Geers, Loris Greaud, Bethan Huws, Claude Leveque , Jonathan Monk, Bruce Nauman, David Shrigley.
Having participated in numerous international exhibitions, Candice Breitz was invited to the Venice Biennale in 2005 and in
2007, was awarded the prestigious international contemporary art prize by the Prince Pierre Foundation of Monaco. In 2005
and 2006, during the exhibitions Theorema, a private collection in Italy, then Figures of the Actor, the paradox of the Actor
- an exhibition comprising more than 700 artworks exploring four centuries of the representation of the actor - the
Collection Lambert had the opportunity to present Candice Breitz ‘s work and to establish a privileged relationship with the
In 2008 the museum will devote an entire solo exhibition to this major artist. Mother + Father, 2005, but also Becoming,
2003, King (A Portrait of Michael Jackson), 2005, Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon), 2006, Queen
(A Portrait of Madonna), 2005 or even the gigantic photographs of the very recent series Monument, 2007 will also populate
the splendid rooms of the 18th century hôtel particulier.
Breitz appeared on the contemporary art scene as such a symptom of our era. Representative of the Postproduction generation, her work surprises in its radical use of new technologies. In the manner of other renowned international artists who arrived on the forefront of the artistic scene in the 90s – Philippe Parreno, Douglas Gordon, Pierre Huyghe, Christian Marclay, Francesco Vezzoli – Breitz uses sampling, the cut up, appropriation and piracy as new creative mediums. Born in South Africa, a country where television was developing at the same time as the first video recorders were appearing in households – allowing for both the recording of programs and their viewing beyond the constraints imposed by mass media (temporality, control, censorship), Candice Breitz quickly oriented her work around the liberating potential that these new technologies offered. Refusing to take the position of a passive consumer of formatted images, she selects, removes, cuts and twists to compose her own scenario.
Hence the resulting artworks have in common as much their fascination with images produced by mass media – magazine advertising, music videos, soap operas, Hollywood Films, as a certain critical distance. For if global culture is indeed central to the artist’s work, then it has nothing to do with the enraptured mystification of it but really the creation of a new relationship between the spectator and these images, more complex and critical than those inferred in the network of traditional diffusion. Mother + Father, 2005, presented at the Venice Biennale in 2005 and awarded in Monaco in 2007, is made up of two distinct installations, each consisting of 6 videos projected on as many screens. In one room Mother presents Faye Dunaway, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Julia Roberts and Shirley MacLaine. In another room, Father presents Tony Danza, Dustin Hoffman, Harvey Keitel, Steve Martin, Donald Sutherland and John Voight. All are extracts from their original films using digital technology, cut out, replaced on a black background, the actors becoming the new protagonists in the exchange of mutual phrases orchestrated by the artist. Originating from Hollywood films, they all centre on family relationships – dramatic as in Kramer vs. Kramer, or lighter as is the case in Father of the Bride – from then on these films represent so many stereotypes of maternity and paternity.
The sequences proposed by the artist are so troubling in their simplicity – tears, cries are associated with pain and despair, smiles to joy – that they make the actors, to whom we are so attached via the thread of the films that they have defended, into instruments for their own criticism. The same for Becoming, 2005, a sort of hyper-technological Janus in which back to back screens project sequences on one side that are also derived from films or soap operas (you can see Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez... for example) whilst on the other side Candice Breitz presents herself on screen. With disconcerting precision the artist mimes each actress’ craft, from gestures to behavioural tics, revealing the cracks, the artifice that they carry within.
Behind this criticism of the language of media it is of course a criticism of the spectator that is also in question, of the danger of their alienation, but also of their capacity to re-appropriate the images proposed to them. The effort the artist makes to resemble Meg Ryan or Cameron Diaz, is like that of a crazed fan, bearing witness to an extreme desire for identification that is very widespread in today’s society. What can we say about the groupies chosen by the artist for Queen, (A Portrait of Madonna), 2005 who accepted to give their renditions of the entire The Immaculate Collection (the first large compilation of Madonna’s biggest hits) with unconcealed fervour. The resulting installation, made from 30 screens each simultaneously diffusing a fan’s performance, creates a sort of postmodern choir in the heart of which all seem devoted to the adored star’s pop cause, which ultimately only exists through them. The group are both marvellous and disturbing and so monumental that it submerges us in a strange feeling, as if we are finding ourselves there... This procedure is also used in King (A Portrait of Michael Jackson), 2005 or Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon), 2006, works that will also be presented at the exhibition in Avignon.
Just as in all her recent works, the gigantic photographs from the Monument, 2007 series in which dozens of fans are dressed up – time for a family portrait – as the same star, the same band (Abba, Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson, Grateful Dead or Britney Spears), in a funny and violent way the artist asks the following question: who are we and how did we become what we are? Is it thanks to our parents, our education, our personal experience, or from mass media? In doing this Breitz leaves us with the possibility of a choice. Beyond the critical potential that they generate, Candice Breitz’s work, in effect, gives the spectator the keys to a new knowledge and by doing so, the power to rethink their way of existing in the world. For if the devices that Breitz creates all compete with each other in their complexity and technological ingenuity, they each have in common a placing of the spectator in the centre of a proposition that is as clear as it is seductive: to re-appropriate the media world and to shape it in one’s own way.
Kendell Geers, Loris Gréaud, Bethan Huws, Claude Lévêque , Jonathan Monk, Bruce Nauman, David Shrigley Following on from Candice Breitz’s exhibition essentially composed of video installations and immense photographs, the idea appealed to us to present an ensemble of artworks in the succession of great spaces on the ground floor in reference to one of the fathers of Minimal art, Bruce Nauman, the Collection Lambert possesses numerous works on paper and a series of photographs by the artist. Like Candice Breitz, we were also inspired by musical references, the title “Neon Bible” is borrowed from Canadian rock band Arcade Fire. The hanging of the show is articulated around neon like a mini-exhibition, with three neons by Jonathan Monk associated with sculptures, collages or drawings, with two neons by Kendell Geers, placed in relation to the installation of batons in heart-shape form that was especially made for the preceding exhibition, a neon by David Shrigley links with works on paper and a video animation, two neons by Bethan Huws in reference to the Readymades of Marcel Duchamp, a neon by Claude Lévêque “Pluie pourrie” (Dirty rain) is placed opposite an image of a prefabricated house “Prêt à crever” (Ready to die ) and finally an enigmatic neon by Loris Gréaud “Illusion is a Revolutionary Weapon” that should absolutely not be plugged in : the artist has replaced the fluorescent gas for neons with propane gas, quite simply deadly... But just beside the work he offers fluorescent sweets with an illusion of taste!
5, rue Violette - Avignon