October 1, 2004 - Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum - Cameron Jamie
October 1, 2004

Cameron Jamie

Cameron Jamie
10 October – 24 November 2004

Neue Galerie Graz at the Kuenstlerhaus
Burgring, A-8010 Graz


Poster painted by Shiva, Bangalore / Photo: A. Kaunat    Cameron Jamie JO

Curator: Gunther Holler-Schuster

Opening: Saturday, 9 October 2004, 12 am, Kuenstlerhaus,
with a live music performance by Keiji Haino


This is not the first time that Cameron Jamie’s work is being shown in Graz – he was also represented in our exhibition “M_ARS – Art and War” (2003) with the video “Cypress”. Following the museum’s practise of positioning young international perspectives on an institutional level at an early stage, also this new exhibition of Cameron Jamie’s work is an attempt to actively shape the international development of contemporary art. In the past, the Neue Galerie Graz has implemented this concept successfully with artists such as Sylvie Fleury, Pipilotti Rist, or Olafur Eliasson.

Cameron Jamie’s art is multifaceted: similar to an ethnographer, he starts off by researching various sociotopes, and then traces their specific forms of subculture and/or popular culture, which are largely symptomatic of the degenerative state of a society in which we are all sentenced to live, or at least survive. The media he uses for the formal translation of his findings are film and video, as well as photography and drawings.

Cameron Jamie grew up in San Fernando Valley and today lives in Paris. Ever since his artistic beginnings in the early 1990s, he has focused on the intensive research of the shady realms of subculture. San Fernando Valley is a proverbially oversized suburb, ruled by the pornographic industry, the fear of earthquakes – the last large-scale earthquake in 1994 cost Cameron Jamie’s family their house – and full of myths about the Hollywood that it borders on (Rodney King, Manson Family). In his work, Jamie documents the shaping of fantasies and ideas of the people who live there. Whether he shows youngsters engaged in “backyard wrestling”, as in his film “BB”, or roams the streets dressed up as a vampire, getting into scuffles with distraught passers-by, or approaches the “Spook Houses” – he shows us middle-class America in its suburban utopia as a “first-world hell”. Again and again, it is the labyrinthine paths of cultural developments that prompt him to make a statement. An example is Halloween, which was originally brought to America from Northern Europe and achieved a high cultural status there. In recent years, Halloween was re-imported into Europe, where it is becoming increasingly popular and constitutes a significant commercial factor. Even backyard wrestling is already being copied in Europe. The separateness from the original approach, and thus the seemingly lifeless inner core, is absorbed through re-codings and aestheticizations. In “Kranky Claus”, a film about the grampus rituals in Gastein in the Austrian province of Salzburg, Cameron Jamie accompanies grampus groups on their nightmarish tour through the area, witnessing their noisy rampage through the snow and their thrashing of children. Of course, these creatures, too, come from a sphere that belongs to the netherworld – just like Jamie himself on his way through the Valley.

In his most recent project, “JO”, the artist tackles the myth of St. Joan of Arc. He hit upon this subject by a circuitous route: in San Fernando Valley, potatoes that have been fried quickly to make them particularly crispy are commonly referred to as “Joan of Arc style” fries. Jamie’s new film leads the viewer from the Burger stall to Orleans, where an annual festival in the honour of the saint has been taking place for 500 years, through Paris, where French right-wing radicals hold a rally around a golden statue of Joan of Arc every year, to the “Eating-Contest” in Coney Island, during which the Japanese winner devoured 54 hot dogs in only 12 minutes. The film roams through the nightmare of Catholic-influenced European culture, which dominated the past, and which lives on in its perverted form as American culture, which dominates worldwide the present.

The soundtrack to the film was composed by the dark Japanese electronic maestro, Keiji Haino, who is also going to perform it live in Graz. “We are living in the apocalypse now”. This is also Cameron Jamie’s conviction. For him, the project “JO” is an intensive confrontation with death – with the end of the human race. The aesthetics of the exhibition follow that of a humble open-air cinema, of the kind that is popular in India. It is completed by drawings and photos that link the contradictory myth of the martyr with forms of current popular culture.

More radical than many artists of his generation, the art of Cameron Jamie tracks down extreme phenomena in society and presents them to us in a mirror. He is not only one of the most precise chroniclers of American culture and lifestyle, and thus also of our own, but also an ambassador from a shady realm where there is no life before death – and where would we seem to belong, if not there?

The Neue Galerie Graz also presents:

Peter Weibel: the open work 1964-1979
25. 9. – 21. 11. 2004
Neue Galerie

Skrein Christian: 68 – artists. legends. photographs
2. 10. – 31. 10. 2004
Neue Galerie im Hof

Jean Tinguely: The Great Spiral / Hommage to New York
7. 10. – 31. 10. 2004
Neue Galerie Studio and yard of Neue Galerie

Flora Watzal
6. 11. – 5. 12. 2004
Neue Galerie Studio

Peter Sengl
6. 11. – 5. 12. 2004
Neue Galerie im Hof

Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum
Sackstrasse 16, A-8010 Graz
T +43-316-82 91 55 / F +43-316-81 54 01
neuegalerie@stmk.gv.at / www.neuegalerie.at

Opening times: Tues – Sun 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Thur 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum
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