Tour Backdrop: Flex
Among the many tour news that Madonna Tribe told its readers exclusively before the tour even started we reported that Madonna would have had a naked man and a woman projected as backdrop during ths song Frozen, the only song from the album Ray of Light on the tour .
The video is by the director of the original Frozen video, Chris Cunningham.
and came from short art film, directed by Cunningham called “Flex” and it’s already released on Dvd on “The Work Of Director Chris Cunningham“.
Felx was commisioned and produced in 2001 as video installation with sound by Anthony d’Offay Ltd. It was originally exhibited at the Guinness 5th Gallery in Dublin from November 2002 to January 2003.
Screen caps of “Flex” by Chris Cunningham
Click on Full Article to read an interesting review of Flex and discover what the footage Madonna uses as a backdrop is about.
Here’s a review of Flex by Lorraine Whelan from Art Magazine Circa.
Dublin: Chris Cunningham at 5th
Sex and death sells. Apparently, this is something well-known in the commercial world of advertising but I am not sure what the logic is behind it (how could this be logical?). The human fascination with sex and death is well documented, however, and in the art world it was especially popular at the turn of the last century, in the era of the ‘femme fatale’. In his book Femme Fatale: Images of Evil and Fascinating Women, Patrick Bade puts this obsession down to the prevalence of syphilis among Bohemian artists, and the romantic spirit of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
In flex at the Guinness 5th Gallery, Chris Cunningham deals with a variation of this theme, concentrating on sex and violence. Perhaps it is my own romanticism surging forth, but while Cunningham’s variation is scarier to me, I believe it wholly relevant to the turn of the millennium: terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the ravages of AIDS form the backdrop to personal terror, as there is a growing awareness of abuse and the realisation that the ‘enemy’ is usually a trusted member of the community and/or family. Although I tend to be wary of exhibitions that come with a warning (as this one did), suspecting the artist and/or gallery of wanting to promote sensationalism, to be suspicious of flex would be to trivialise one of the most thought-provoking videos I have ever seen.
Before entering the gallery space, loud, electronic sound (created in collaboration with Richard D. James) is already heard. The video itself is projected onto a complete wall of the square gallery, so one is within a cinematic environment. There is a definite narrative too, so it is important to watch the complete video – which, while it emotionally may prove difficult, is visually stunning.
In a nutshell: from darkness a beam of light illuminates the naked forms of a man and woman who are first seen in the protective spoon embrace; on separating they are both overwhelmed by violence to each other, and the video ends with the woman crawling back to the embrace of the man. The video is filmed in such a way that the human forms are ‘other’ in that the perspective is distorted and details are too defined. What one hears is a type of hyper-realism (movement, breathing, the meeting of flesh on flesh) and the familiar Hollywood notion of a space vacuum – the impossible sound of the hollow scraping of air… While the video seems to be black and white (as a viewer I found some irony here as I thought of Guinness commercials gone terribly, terribly wrong!), there are subtle hints of colour: the man’s ear and the woman’s lips are pink. Both the man and woman have very fit, muscular bodies and their interaction is predicated by the white light – at some points they seem to be interrogated, their actions and violence towards each other seem to be caused by this light. Here I considered the effect of the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and with this in mind, it is no surprise that Cunningham has in fact worked with Stanley Kubrick. In art and literature ‘the light’ traditionally represents goodness and truth; in flex, while not necessarily malignant, the beam of light reveals nakedness and fear (like the apple of knowledge in the Garden of Eden).
Given time and space, I would be able to write a tome on Flex. Cunningham is an experienced maker of videos in the music industry who has brought his expertise and vision into the art world. Fabulous production and thoughtful work; no naval-gazing here, this is video as it should be.
Review by Lorraine Whelan, an artist and writer based in Bray, Co. Wicklow.
Source: Circa Magazine