Thursday, September 6, 2007


Last night I went over to the Contemporary for the showing of "On Vulnerability" : four videos by different artists dealing with the "human conditions of strength, empathy, fragility, and masculinity" curated by Stuart Horodner. In my work I am largely concerned with the body and masculinity and so I went with high hopes and was not disappointed. Out of the four artists represented, the German artist Melanie Manchot's video "Security" most resonated with me.

In 2005 Manchot went to Ibeza, Spain and asked bouncers guarding the doors of night clubs to stand in front of the club door the following morning and undress, stand momentarily in front of the camera nude, then put their clothes back on - all while being filmed. There are seven separate films of security guards - each one awkwardly doing as they were asked and through every gesture giving insight into their own relationship with their body and their relationship to the camera. It was really fascinating to watch and as equally interesting to think about the viewer who watches these films, and what can be interpreted from the viewer's response. The ideal of masculinity and strength is put under a microscope and it's almost uncomfortable to watch.

Manchot says she "use(s) perfomative strategies to deal with extended notions of portraiture" and "deals with the notions of beauty and desiring beauty." You can watch a 15 minute artist talk Manchot gave at the Brooklyn Museum of Art for the "Global Feminism" show on their website. Manchot talks about four different series of work and footage of the "Security" video can be seen about halfway through.
The included images were taken off of the Fred [London] gallery website, along with this fantastic quote: “..…His skin would seem to burst over such a mass of muscle. Buried in his clumsy movements is that sense of sadness of an over bred species, caught in his own monstrous body. He is a paradoxical creature: built to please, to be looked at, yet how can such an absurd body engage in sex, other than with itself......”
Manchot is my new favorite.

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