Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard
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Rewind and repeat to fade

Rewind and repeat to fade
Ian White

Ian White writes about Mike Kelley and Tony Oursler's The Poetics Project 1977-1997 at The barbican and Iain and Jane's File under Sacred Music at the ICA. He opens "Is it film? Live art? Rock? Who cares? Subversive re-enactments are the way forward."

Extract: "If the simultaneous fusion and dissolution of boundaries charaterise The Poetics, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard's latest work occupies a not dissimilar territory. No Strangers to the intersection between popular culture and the spectacles that fuel it, their 1998 re-enactment at the ICA of David Bowie's final Ziggy Stardust concert was an amazing moment of iconic avant-rock as live art. File under Sacred Music pushes their practice further, recreating the Cramp's legendary performance at Napa Mental Institute in 1978 in order to produce the bootleg video of that event. The gig, also at the ICA, though this time in a closed set, was staged for the benefit of carefully controlled cameras, themselves mimicking the original, limited recording equipment with awkward panning shots and fixed positions, to an audience of "users and survivors of the psychiatric system" invited by the artists and mental health charities.

The magnitude and sensitivity of this engagement should not be underestimated. Its terms, beyond any binary, liberal accusations of exploitation, dared to embrace, more extremely than before, the tragic flaw lying between chance and action that makes Forsyth and Pollard's epic structures of re-performance such extraordinary works of art. While The Cramps' anarchic energy was passionately re-enacted by Alfonso Pinto, Holly Golightly, Bruce Brand and John Gibbs, the audience's freedom was collapsed simultaneously onto the pressure of recording. The gap between past and present became the difference between acting and being, a process both facilitated by and commenting upon today's mental health service and a lost dynamic between radical 'pop' and political action - something no less articulated by the coveted, cult-status bootleg video made art object, another facade from that glorious theatre of failure we ought by now to call the truth."

This article originally appeared in Art Review, June 2003

 

 

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Art Review
Cover of Art Review

Excerpt: "The magnitude and sensitivity of this engagement should not be underestimated. Its terms, beyond any binary, liberal accusations of exploitation, dared to embrace, more extremely than before, the tragic flaw lying between chance and action that makes Forsyth and Pollard's epic structures of re-performance such extraordinary works of art."

Click to watch

Related works
File under Sacred Music

Related essays and press
'Nests, Puke, Frames...' -
Tom McCarthy, 2003

'Psychotic Reaction' - Mojo, 2003
'Would a band...' - i-D Magazine, 2003
'Spastic Fantastic' - Sleazenation, 2003
'Kick the kitsch' - The Independent, 2003
'It Beats Bingo!' - The Guardian, 2003

Related shows
File under Sacred Music

Related sites
File under Sacred Music
Art Review

 
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