The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) will become the first Australian cultural institution to present a major solo exhibition by leading South African artist Candice Breitz.
The exhibition, which opens in December, will feature a new work co-commissioned by ACMI and the Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts, together with a selection of Breitz’s key video installation works.
Born in Johannesburg and based in Berlin, Breitz is an internationally renowned video and photographic artist whose large scale installations engage with pop music, film and celebrity culture to explore the construction of identity and individuality within a variety of communities, both local and global. Conducting interviews with selected subjects or using found footage taken primarily from mainstream cinema and music videos, Breitz re-edits her video sources to create new narratives that question how we define ourselves through our relationships with mass entertainment and with each other.
Breitz is best known for her found footage work Mother + Father (2005), and for her quartet of multi-channel video portraits that bring together music fans to re-perform complete albums by their favourite pop icons. These works, which include King (A Portrait of Michael Jackson) and Legend (A Portrait of Bob Marley) (both dated 2005), demonstrate the individual relationships fans have with their idols, but also reflect on the ubiquitous power of celebrity culture within a global community. They are collective portraits of the pop stars in absentia in which the ‘star’ remains an elusive figure that exists, in fact, only through our collective imagining of them.
Through her emphasis on language, Breitz confronts the roles and stereotypes that are constructed for us through mass media, and questions to what extent our own lives are ‘scripted’ by the media we consume. Him + Her (1968-2008), for example, constructs complex narratives about gender roles and the confusion of identity through re-edited clips from a series of films featuring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. To create Factum (2010), Breitz conducted long (up to 7 hour) interviews with twins and triplets and then edited these into dual-channel portraits that probe the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate to explore the construction of individuality as a process of differentiation.
Breitz’s works both celebrate and critique popular culture. They activate pop culture by means of examining how we define ourselves and how, through slippages of self, identity is a liquid and mutable process rather than a fixed entity.
The new co-commissioned work created for the exhibition will be Breitz’s most ambitious video installation to date. It will be produced as part of Horizons: The ACMI Commissions Series – the organisation’s recently launched contemporary art commissioning strand.
“Candice Breitz is one of the smartest, most stimulating artists working with moving images in the world today.” said ACMI Director Tony Sweeney. “Her wonderfully playful works engage with today’s remix, mash-up culture, and provoke us to think deeply about the effects of this culture within our daily lives. We’re extremely proud to present Australian audiences with this opportunity to experience so many of Breitz’s works together.”
Breitz began exhibiting in the mid-1990s and over the past ten years has shot to international prominence. Her works have been exhibited widely in group and solo shows internationally – including at the Johannesburg, São Paulo, Istanbul, Kwangju, Taipei and Venice Biennales. She has held solo exhibitions at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010), Pinchuk Art Center, Kyiv (2011), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA (2009), De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam (2001), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2004), Modern Art Oxford (2003), Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2005), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2005), Lousiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2008), Temporare Kunsthalle, Berlin (2008) and the Collection Lambert in Avignon, France (2008). In 2007 Breitz was awarded the Prince Pierre of Monaco Foundation’s 41st International Prize for Contemporary Art for emerging artists. Candice Breitz is represented by White Cube, London; Kaufmann Repetto, Milan and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.
A suite of talks and events will accompany the exhibition. More information on this exhibition will be announced later in 2012.
The Candice Breitz exhibition will show at ACMI from 6 December 2012 to March 2013.