What is your exhibition about?
I commissioned a puppeteer to create a puppet, based on Jean-Francois Lyotard, a revolutionary late 20th century philosopher and performed with him at Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and burning man festivals. One of Lyotard’s focuses was on the revolutionary potential of avant-garde artists who develop new ways of thinking that can deform traditional representational structures. These EDM events fascinate me because of their emphasis on an uncontained libidinal energy as both a form of social dissent and escapism, and I found that to be an interesting problem. I have become fascinated with America’s denial and social immobilization and whether or not we have completely entered this event horizon or if there are other realities within mainstream culture that are more hopeful. I transformed Lyotard into a puppet to both make him accessible to the masses but also showing how criticality has become neutralized.
How are the performances incorporated into the exhibition?
CB: The performances are the pivot point for all the work in the space. The projected video is a montage of the different performances with a cut-up poem I created from some of Lyotard’s writings. William S. Burroughs once said that with cut-up poems, when you collage the past with the present that the future comes out. I intend for these to hopefully be some sort of foreshadowing.
Regarding the paintings, I had three Artpace Teen Council members create them as fan portraits, and I will paint their portraits in return.
What kind of experience do you want to create for your viewers?
I’m interested in mainstream culture and how people are conditioned to like certain things, and I’m fascinated with the boundaries around this. In the videos, I’m wearing 3D printed masks of Elle Fanning, Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence, but they end of up looking very emotionless and vacant. The car for me is a symbol of desperation and wanting to be more than what it is. There is desperation in much of the work; everything seems desperate and sexualized, and I am trying to create a dark humor around this process. The opera during the opening is to be like a mournful dirge about where America is right how and if there is hope to get out of it.
Where did the streams of thought that began this project come from?
CB: I started reading Lyotard’s Inhuman in 2015, the second year I had gone to Burning Man, and I saw a strange connection between those two opposite things. Both were pointing to the future but in very different ways. Although I understand the criticisms of Burning Man, it seems to be greater than the sum of its parts and was quite shocking to me when I first went there. Similar to Lyotard’s writing, I’m interested in how these events create a similar “pain of the unthinking” that looks to overturn traditional structures. Aesthetically I am referencing David Bowie in Labyrinth, who for me is also a kind of revolutionary figure in popular culture.