Monday, December 2, 2013

Kanye Kitsch and Surreal Czech Eroticism

by Drew Martin
Last night I had a dream that I attended a small-venue Katy Perry concert in New York City and was able to work my way up to the stage. The concert was a little edgy, which I thought was an artistic apology for the release of Prism; a schlocky let-down after her creative and crafty Teenage Dream. I awoke after the fourth song, and in my groggy transition I wondered if the pictures I took at the dream concert somehow made it back into reality. The funny thing is that even though the dream felt so real, there were dead-giveaway clues:  

1. My 73-year-old mom opened for Katy with a lengthy performance.

2. One of my friends who fell asleep at the concert became two-dimensional.

3. My camera was a small, hollow box made from a thin wire frame stretched with golden fabric.

Sometimes dreams can be approximated in movies and video. Kanye West's
Bound 2 does this by remixing the absurd with reality. Earlier today I read Jerry Saltz's December 9 New York Magazine article Put Kanye in the Biennial: "Bound 2" and its crazy new kind of artistic self-awareness, in which he speaks about artists who try to communicate their sincerity but end up revealing how out-of-touch they are. Jeff Koons is put in West's camp, which is appropriate because of how they share a laughable arrival at porn through some personal artistic insight.

While Saltz mentions
Bound 2 has been "ridiculed as clueless kitsch," I could not help to think of how it not only reminds me of the informed kitsch playfully handled by the Czech band Kill the Dandies in their video Everybody Calls Me an Angel but also how it makes use of wacky musical fragments. The difference is between soft pornography and surreal eroticism: West rides a topless Kim Kardashian on his motorcycle, Hank Manchini rides La Petite Sonja on a stuffed wild boar while he bites at an oversized mushroom. 

The Czech video came out a few years ago - I am thinking that maybe West smuggled some of Manchini's kitsch-inducing mushroom back in his luggage after shooting his Diamonds From Sierra Leone video on the streets of Prague at that time.