Thank You for the Music

Thank You for the Music, Installation View. Image courtesy of Kiasma.

Thank You for the Music recently ended the second part of its showing at Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland. The exhibition presents works by artists inspired by music, musicians, and the way individuals and communities experience a place, their past, and themselves, through the myths and rituals surrounding music. In particular, the notion of performance in the construction and reconstruction of an individual’s identity surfaces through several of the works in the exhibition.

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, Kiss My Nauman, 2007. Image courtesy of Kiasma.

Titled in reference to Bruce Nauman’s Art Make-Up  (1967), Kiss My Nauman (2007) by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard is a four-channel video installation where the members of Dressed to Kill, a Kiss tribute group carefully paint their faces in preparation for a performance. With a close-up view of each member in surrounding separate screens, one stands within a zone of intimacy, gaining access to the concentration and collectedness of a musician during the period before a performance, where the putting on of a mask conceals yet reveals the bareness beneath.

Petri Ala-Maunus, (Left) A Tribute to Petri Ala-Maunus, 2009, (Right) Oh Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, 2009. Image courtesy of Kiasma.

The idea of performance as a means of disclosure of an individual’s vulnerability emerges in Petri Ala-Maunus’ works, from the viewpoint of one who seeks to fulfill a teenage dream of becoming a rockstar. In Oh Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby (2009), Ala-Maunus strums a guitar to a song he composed when he was 16. With the yellow floral wallpaper and pink stuffed rabbit behind him, Ala-Maunus as rockstar is at once comical and mournful, of the search, effort, and impossibility of achieving the fame and glory of a past imagined ideal. A related work A Tribute to Petri Ala-Maunus (2009) is an LP with a music station area that features the original recording done when Ala-Maunus was 16, together with versions by invited musicians.

Candice Breitz, Britney Spears Monument, Berlin, September 2007, 2007. Digital c-print mounted on Diasec 70 7/8 x 165 3/16 in. (180 x 419.6 cm) © the artist. Courtesy White Cube

Three large photographic works by Candice Breitz occupy the walls in one gallery, surrounding the viewer with monuments to Britney Spears, Abba and Marilyn Manson. These monuments celebrate the legacy of each idol in the way their style have permeated communities of fans in Berlin. While each fan mimics the style of their idol in their dress, posture and paraphernalia, the composition of each group portrait emphasizes the diversity within. What becomes apparent are the acts of performance we go through often with unabashed enjoyment, as modes of expressions of time and taste.