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Song Show: Pop Stars by Proxy

Artlab, London Oct 29 to Nov 20, 2009
Candice Breitz  <I>Double Karen (Close to You)</I>  1970–2000  Courtesy OK Centre for Contemporary Art  /  photo Jason Mandella Candice Breitz Double Karen (Close to You)  1970–2000 Courtesy OK Centre for Contemporary Art / photo Jason Mandella

Candice Breitz <I>Double Karen (Close to You)</I>  1970–2000 Courtesy OK Centre for Contemporary Art / photo Jason Mandella

While sordid details on the death of Michael Jackson continue to unfold, one fact remains: even posthumously, Jackson is still crowned the “King of Pop.” This phenomenon points not only to the mythic hold of pop celebrity, but also the power of music to affect human emotions at a deep level. Curators Kathleen Pirrie Adams and Daniela Sneppova wade into this psychologically charged territory with “Song Show,” a group exhibition that examines the intertwined nature of music and the popular imagination. Works in the show promise to cover a range of critical approaches to the cult of song and celebrity. Hits by Madonna and Prince are reduced to monotone by Scottish artists Beagles and Ramsay. Berlin-based artist Candice Breitz (whose solo exhibition at the Power Plant wraps up this week) deconstructs the melancholy lyrics of the Carpenters in her installation Double Karen (Close to You). Kevin Schmidt’s Long Beach Led Zep resituates the classic-rock anthem “Stairway to Heaven” in a West Coast landscape, while Dutch artist Jeroen Offerman quips on rock and roll’s subversive potential in a reversed version of the song played on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Japanese artist Anti-Cool offers an “auto-didactic” collaboration with Montreal art-rockers Duchess Says. Finally, videos and installations by Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, Steina and Woody Vasulka and Michael Paul Britto round out the bill. (University of Western Ontario, London ON)

Anti-Cool in collaboration with Duchess Says Lone Orchestra 2008 Excerpt from Canadian Art on Vimeo.

This article was first published online on November 12, 2009.

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