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Domestic Arenas: Massage the History, BB, Kranky Klaus
April 28 – June 17, 2017
530 West 21st Street
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Gladstone Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of three films by artist Cameron Jamie, spanning a decade of work. This installation marks the first time that Jamie has programmed these films, including BB  (1998-2000), Kranky Klaus (2002-2003), and Massage the History (2007-2009), to focus on the theme of the home as a site of intersection between public and private rituals. In each of these works, the proximity to his subjects allows him to reveal the uncanny in the cultural fabric. Finding subject matter in diverse fields of play—from the suburban backyards of Los Angeles, to the living rooms of the American South and Alpine villages of Central Europe—these three works investigate the ritualized performativity of violence, arcane tradition, and sexuality. Moving between interior and exterior spaces, the film program traces a mental map connecting rites of passage in different cultures. Additionally, rock bands The Melvins and Sonic Youth, who have expanded the language of rock music, provide hallucinatory soundscapes that are an integral aspect of the films.

Massage the History records amateur dancers, whom Jamie found accidentally online, who freely engage the quotidian domestic scene with their own sexually suggestive movements. Unintended for an actual audience, the automatic nature of their body language evolves from an intimate spectacle into a dreamlike scenario of transcendence through onanistic desire.

BB captures the semi-choreographed brawls of Southern Californian teens who mimic the movements seen on popular TV wrestling shows. Shot on Super-8, Jamie’s film transforms their raw makeshift arena into a social theater of primitive adolescent vaudeville. The rock drone soundtrack provided by The Melvins creates an atemporal space that simultaneously unravels and builds toward its Wagnerian conclusion.

Kranky Klaus documents the pagan Christmas celebration of the Krampus—a menacing devil/monster character—in the Alpine villages of Austria’s Bad Gastein Valley where St. Nicolas leads participants costumed in horns and fur in a sanctioned ritual of harassment. The film becomes a morality play exploring the cultural symbiosis of good and evil and how violence socializes through performances of cathartic abuses.  

Cameron Jamie was born in Los Angeles in 1969 and has lived in France since 2000. Jamie will be the subject of a forthcoming retrospective at MAC Lyon in 2018. Presently, he is featured in The Absent Museum at Wiels, Brussels and was most recently included in The Infinite Mix at the Hayward Gallery in 2016. Jamie has been the subject of museum surveys at the Kunsthalle Zurich (2013) and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2006), traveling to the MIT List Visual Arts Center. Jamie has been featured in film festivals and major group exhibitions including Traces du sacré at Centre Georges Pompidou (2008), the Berlin Biennial (2010), the Whitney Biennial (2006), the Venice Biennale (2005), and the 2015 Lyon Biennale. In 2008 Jamie was the first recipient of the Yanghyun Prize and in 2016 was awarded the Daniel and Florence Guerlain Art Foundation prize for drawing.