Born in Johannesburg (South Africa), 1972Lives & works in Berlin (Germany) Very active in: 2000s, Current decade
Born in 1972 in South Africa; completed her BA(FA) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) in 1993, and an MA degree from the University of Chicago (1995) and an MPhil degree from Columbia University (1997). Lives and works in Berlin.
Candice Breitz is established as one of the central artistic figures of her generation. Breitz's work addresses the complex relationship between culture and consumption, probing and dissecting the rocky chasms between reality and fiction, experience and language, identity and its representations.
But Breitz's interventions are not simply critical attacks on the products of mass entertainment: they also take seriously the significance that pop culture acquires for those who consume it and use it. Over the last decade, Candice Breitz has been translating, remixing and editing the codes and icons of contemporary media culture and the language of the entertainment industry.
In early photographic montages, she explored the instability of identity and the violence of representation. The compelling video installations that grew out of the earlier photographic works, and which have become central to her practice, tend to strip down and interrogate found footage borrowed from mainstream cinema, television and music video. Breitz isolates and aggressively redirects this footage away from its characteristically narrative and anesthetic functions. The resulting works traverse a familiar yet puzzling and fragmentary terrain, rescinding the grammar and syntax of the borrowed material.
On the one hand, Breitz's media-scapes expose the machinery and tease out the values of the mainstream media industry. On the other, they reflect on the very real affect that pop culture is able to generate and sustain; projections and identifications that are more complex than they may at first seem.
Through cut-ups and cropping, assembly and montage the artist re-exposes the found material by opening up the surface, the connections, joints and borders between the images/languages to reveal the construction of the representation and its ideology. As in karaoke and sampling, the original material is recycled, re-configured and altered, in Breitz's case to gain access to a space that is critical about the use of images/languages as products of the increasingly dominant media industry and the methods and intentions concealed behind it.
Between original and re-production, visible and invisible, exposed and erased, presence and absence, familiar and strange, celebrity and anonymity, Candice Breitz weaves an artistic work supported by complex audio-visual installations. On one hand, its intricate technology enables that work to be staged as "psychodrama" where we project, with which we identify and in which we recognize our own subjectivity in the space of popular global consumer culture. On the other hand, it fragments and decomposes the relation of those media languages with the formation and construction of our identities, of our representations and of how we are perceived; the relation between who we are and how we imagine ourselves in the capitalist media universe; the way in which our representations and those of other cultures misrepresent and betray our desires and needs; the ways in which those needs and desires are mediated through filters such as MTV and CNN, Hollywood movies, etc.
The universe projected by Candice Breitz's installations is the universe of the hyperreal. It is not an imitation or a copy, a duplicate or a parody. To paraphrase Baudrillard, it is the universe of substituting the signs of the real for the real. Candice Breitz, however, does not propose to analyze how those media construct the world in which we live, or the symptoms they create. Nor does she aim to establish a deconstructive criticism of those media or explore how those celebrities are made. Candice Breitz proposes to open, reveal and expose the simulacrum between reality and fiction, experience and language, identities and the media representing them, in this reality of ours that always promotes obsolescence, sameness and uniformity.
[Excerpts of the essays by Octavio Zaya (Curator of MUSAC, Spain) and Jessica Morgan (Curator of Contemporary Art at the Tate Modern, London) for the publication, "Candice Breitz: Multiple Exposure" designed by Ralf Henning].