”Queen” lands in Boston
“Queen (A Portrait of Madonna),” the video installation created by South African video artist Candice Breitz, is part of the exhibit “Contemporary Outlook: Seeing Songs,” which runs through Feb. 21 at the MFA in Boston.
As M-Tribe readers know, “Queen” features 30 Madonna superfans – including lots of Tribers – each filmed individually by Breitz – singing along to all 73 minutes of “The Immaculate Collection” album.
Since we hear only the voices and not the music, the pauses between songs are particularly weighted; the people in the videos abandon their antics and become themselves again, laughing sheepishly or smoothing wayward strands of hair. The overall effect has the raw voyeuristic magnetism of reality TV – with a beat.
“I have no idea what it means,” says Nash Hott, 18, of Indianapolis, his eyes glazed as he watches the screens. “But I can’t turn away.”
The videos – each with a life-size face positioned in front of a white curtain – present a colorful array of characters. Some add their own vocal flourishes, sassy “ooh-whoas” and “oh yeahs.” Others brandish such props as magic wands and feather boas. A man in the center, swaying as he sings, sports a voluminous mohawk, bright streaks of blush, and iridescent blue eye shadow. A heavily-bronzed woman jabs her fists to the beat, while another with a wild mop of hair tosses her head fiercely. A guy in a cowboy hat casts come-hither looks at the camera.
“If the music’s pumping it will give you new life,” they sing, embodying the theme of “Vogue.” “You’re a superstar, yes, that’s what you are, you know it …”
“This piece is about our relationship to celebrities,” explains William Stover, the exhibit’s curator. “When you see these people onscreen, you understand the influence Madonna has had on them. [Breitz] keeps her own intervention to a minimum and lets the fans be who they are, and that’s liberating for us to watch.”
Breitz is fascinated by the faceless swarms of people who consume pop culture fanatically and build their lives around it, Stover says. While the icons they emulate can be seen everywhere, the fans remain invisible.
To find her subjects, Breitz published ads in Italian newspapers and on Madonna fan sites and filmed them in Milan.
From an article by the Boston Globe.