You need a little bit of sense of humour to face horror. This seems to be the moral lesson of the tales of ordinary craziness by two video-artists whose technique and thematic are very different.
Christian Jankowski’s and Eija-Liisa Ahtila‘s exhibitions take place in New York respectively at The Kitchen and at MoMA. There are monsters seeking revenge, philosopher werewolves, women trapped in existential crisis and very personal daily hells, mind dark rooms. The two artists explore social ties with subtle irony.
The New York-based German artist loves to involve a range of non-artists in the creative development of his works. His exhibition, called Us and Them presents a series of dreamlike situations focused on horror as a state of mind and a cinematographic genre.
Angels of Revenge (2006) is a new video for which Jankowski asked contestants from a costume contest at a horror film conference to recount acts of betrayal and tell stories of imagined retribution. The video goes with a series of photographs showing the protagonists and their revenge letters.
Lycan Theorized (2006) evolved out of a real horror film. He intervened into the script which contains all the werewolves movies clichés with quoted observations on the philosophy and nature of horror generated from conversations with high-profile academics and cultural historians working in the field. The black and white 16mm silent film titled Playing Frankenstein features Jankowski challenging a Frankenstein impersonator to a game of chess mixing again fiction, extracts and reality.
The more intimate Finnish artist Ahtila is well-known for her desperate household female descriptions. MoMA’s presentation of The Wind is the first exhibition of Ahtila’s media work in a New York museum. Her three-screen, fourteen-minute installation offers simultaneous perspectives of a single breakdown: a confused and angry young woman invites, in a sense, a strong wind to scatter everything in her apartment to free herself from phobias and obsessions.
This installation also appears as a single-screen episode in her feature-length film Love is a Treasure (2002): 5 women tell about their fantasies and neurosis mixing happiness and bitterness through real and mental landscapes.
These two exhibitions gently investigate on common feelings and troubles we often hide behind a mask or in our unconscious, but ready to unexpectedly kick up.