Candice Breitz’s video installation 'Double Karen (Close To You)' (1970 - 2000) featured in the group exhibition ‘Elvis and Wein & Mozart’ at Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples.
Double Karen (Close To You) is part of Breitz’s “Four Duets” series, which spans nearly half a century of the most sentimental pop tunes. The music video performances that serve as the source material for the work - but which ultimately live on only as digitally mutilated and autistic chains of stammering pronouns - are: Karen Carpenter’s Close To You (1970), Olivia Newton John’s Hopelessly Devoted To You (1977), Annie Lennox’s Thorn In My Side (1985) and Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You (1999). Revisiting and rewriting the four ballads, Breitz dramatizes the absurdly inescapable longing which allows songs like these to endure from generation to generation.
Each of the Duets is a condensation of a lovesong into its two crucial structural components, an “I Loop” and a “You Loop,” now set in a somewhat short-circuited and schizophrenic dialogue with one another. The duets call up their decades with a painful and sometimes cringe-worthy specificity (Karen Carpenter’s bangs unmistakably announce the end of the ‘sixties, while Annie Lennox’s chic platinum spikes are pure ‘eighties).
As a series, the Four Duets make disturbingly visible the speed with which each new cultural moment is now reified, only to be consumed almost immediately as the lucrative kitsch of the next generation. In conflating the digital loop with the historical loop of pop culture, they address our need to constantly reinvent and market the past. That retro is now indeed Retro is testimony to the planned obsolescence and eventual return of even the quaintest jukebox ballad or music video.
Images Courtesy Collezione Morra Greco, Napoli, © Maurizio Esposito
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