Mediamatic BANK (Vijzelstraat 64). For the past two years or so, 3D has been hard on this art space initiative which began about 15 or more years ago. My biggest problem was always trying to determine their theme within the context of "media art" not to mention direction. Of course, the name itself was meant to announce it, but the shows themselves left the question muddled. After a while the shows tended to fall into two categories: pretentious or boring. So, it is with pleasure that this show 3D labels as: Fantastic!
According to the e-mail invite, this was an exhibition that asked the question as to how you will be expressed through the future in what you will become out immortality. That is, with so many people, like artist, writers, housewives, bloggers (of all descriptions) and the just-plain-nuts (crazy people), expounding on the Internet how will YOU be remember and/or immortalized?
The exhibition does NOT answer the question but shows how some people have been or well be. And the show has everything: passion, joy, sorrow, a sense of completion. It is ALL about death!
At the main entrance is a room, off to the side, with about 10 caskets/coffins in it. Each is of the same size and design---and made of heavy duty cardboard---but each has been indiviually decorated to emulate the Nigerian "coffin culture" where a casket might be a carved wooden impression of an expensive automobile. But, of these, only one would be acceptable to any self respecting vampire. That one is covered with gothic like script. The others vary from a contemporary interpretation of Mondrian's "Boogie Woogie" to one that you must view with 3D glasses (you know, the type they gave out at 3D movies in the 50s) to fully appreciate.
The main gallery features perhaps 20 scrolls measuring about three and one half meters long by 110 cms., wide. Each has an oversize photograph of a black person laid out in their coffin. There is happiness, resignation and even hope in their now frozen and eternal facial expressions. Hey, in a phrase, it makes death look okay!
Above these photographic portraits is the most basic info:
"John Pershing Gore "Daphne Jones
Born: June 1920 Born: August, 1953
Spartenburg, south Carolina New York, New York
Died: July 2003 Died October 2003"
Harlem, New York." Harlem, New York" ...and she was still a pretty lady.
Then there are stories left incomplete:
"James 'La Smoothe'Patterson Jr.
Born: September 1966
New York, New York
Died: December 2004
Harlem, New York" ...he is pictured laid out in a "Lakers #8" jersey (sweater) with matching cap. Strange since the "Lakers" are a Los Angeles basketball team. Perhaps someone blew him away for that reason. New Yorkers are passionate about their sport teams.
The youngest is:
James Earl 'Jay Moe'Jones
Born: February 1982
New York, New York
Died: March 2004
Harlem, New York." ...he is wearing a sweat suit (SJC) with matching cap. There are dollar bills stuffed into his pants pocket. Weird.
Aside from the latter two examples, the others are dressed in their Sunday best and sometimes with accessories to indicate their devotation to say, The Free Mason or Chirstianity.
Above 3D mentioned "Nigerian" like designs. One participant, a young lady, had actually ordered a coffin from Nigeria to be carved to her specifications. The presentation was next to the bar. A wooden crate was carried into the room and unpacked. The bubblewrap was removed and we were left staring at a very big "Teddy Bear." The lid was opened and the lady climbed in. She declared it a perfect fit!
An "installation," of sorts, is arranged along the windows. It features a coffin of simple cardboard with a long stemmed white carnation atop it. This focal point is surrounded by objects: a plastic industrial size container of "Bubble Concentrate;" a baton; an electrical orange extention cord; three spray cans of paint (blue, orange and pink); gift wrapping paper; a bouquet of artifical flowers; etc. As 3D was making his notes, something kept bumping onto his leg. Finally, in looking down, there was a half naked person---and because of the long blond hair---that I thought to be a woman. A performance seemed to be in progress. Across the bare back, of what turned out to be a man, was written: "F* my Mom/F* my girl/My Life is played out/Like a Gerry curl/I 'm ready to die."
There was another person dressed from head to toe in black lace. Each of them were lighting church like candles.They stuck old year eve sparklers into the top of the casket and lit them. At one point, an electric powered leaf blower was introduced into the act. First, the long blonds hair was put into the wind then the black lace dress. Finally, the blower was turned on the audience. As it ended its arc, it blew wine from someone's plastic glass onto the beautiful cloth coat of the person next to me. Someone from Mediamatic rushed over and said he should put white wine on it. The person responded that he did not intend to spend the money on white wine to "help pay for this mess!" The white-wine-adviser hurried off and returned with a FREE glass of wine. The day was saved. No new deaths resulted.
While this incident evolved, the performers where now wrapping the coffin in the foil gift wrapping paper. 3D decided to take his leave.
But, the piéce de résistance was an interactive piece/installation. There was another coffin in which you were invited to "repose" within. The lid was closed and you assumed your "death pose" and activated a camera which photographed the scene. The photos were projeced via a flat screen hanging on the wall. Knowing Mediamatic, these photos could pop up anywhere like on a coffee mug, flag or pillow case.
Someone who called himself "MuDboy DOcTOR," [sic], from the state of Rhode Island (USofA), did sounds.
...and there was more.
Mediamatic is still Mediamatic!
3D discovered that he had used all his paper making notes. He went in search of the paper invite for the show. At the entrance, he spotted the guest book, but no invites. His first thought was to remove the last page of the guest book. But, on feeling the quality of the paper, he decided against it. It was just then that he noticed someone staring at him. It was the "doorman." 3D asked for a copy of the inviatation. The doorman didn't have one and suggested trying the bar. My reply was that the people at the bar were busy. He said, "It's okay to interrupt them. This is Mediamatic." So, I did. Unfortunately, they had no invites nor even paper. A man was called over and 3D explained the need to take notes; and that, in the perfect world, a copy of the invite and a blank page of paper would be ideal. The man left and in five minutes was back with a blank sheet of paper. He could find no invite. Naturally, after all this is Mediamatic! Until ? Maybe it is listed on the invite...