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Candice Breitz

Be My Soembody

Since the mid 90s, Candice Breitz has explored the question of the construction of personal and collective identity. While her early works mainly focused on racial and sexual identity, the question of the impact of popular culture rapidly appeared as a dominant element in her practice. Breitz’s photos and video installations are based on methods which recall forms of montage employed in the domains of music and literature, such as cut-up and sampling.

Through the Monuments series of photographs and the installation King (A Portrait of Michael Jackson), the exhibition Candice Breitz: Be My Somebody is concerned more precisely with relations that link the fans to their idols. The five large-format photographic portraits present “families” of fans, contacted through small ads and brought together by Breitz in Berlin to celebrate their respective idols: Marilyn Manson, Britney Spears, Abba, Iron Maidon and Grateful Dead. For the installation King, the artist invited fans of Michael Jackson to perform the whole of the legendary Thriller album under professional recording conditions. All the individual contributions are played simultaneously, in the style of a recomposed choir, highlighting the gap between the different personal performances as much as the way in which the fans sing “with one voice”.

The figure of the fan is a central element in Breitz’s production. As the artist points out, pop music, because it is a collective phenomenon, has progressively impregnated individual identity construction: “Pop music has become the soundtrack of our personal history.” The two projects presented here also throw light on the way the fans’ personalities oscillate between the staging of their own identity and its disappearance in a collective dynamic. This ambiguity between identity and otherness is echoed in the title of the exhibition, Be My Somebody, which was inspired by a Marilyn Manson song.

Candice Breitz also initiated the symposium Call + Response, presented at Mudam from 25 to 28 April 2008. Mudam thanks Oostvogels Pfister Feyten for their generous support of the symposium Call + Response.