“The Ludovico Treatment”
Through November 13th
Exhibit statement, via curator David Hunt:
The Ludovico Treatment will be familiar to readers of Anthony Burgess's "A Clockwork Orange," as the experimental aversion therapy undergone by Alex, a young hooligan recently incarcerated for murdering an elderly lady.
He’s offered a reduced prison sentence in return for agreeing to submit to an intense, visually disturbing barrage of projected images accompanied by a soundtrack of Beethoven and Handel.
More memorable, perhaps, is Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film adaptation, where Malcolm McDowell, playing the charismatic and remorseless Alex in his trademark bowler hat, suspenders and jackboots, is strapped into a dentist's chair as technicians in white lab coats peel back his eyelids with forklike calipers.
They attach electrodes to his body, and pump a nausea inducing serum into his bloodstream while vignettes of horrific footage loops endlessly in a darkened theatre.
The ostensible goal of the Ludovico Treatment is to render Alex incapable of thinking of a future violent act without experiencing extreme bodily discomfort.
Henceforth, all anti-social thoughts will be inextricably bound up with the catalog of 20th Century horrors he is forced to watch, and existential nausea is replaced here by actual gut-wrenching, physical nausea brought on by the serum.
Rather than rehabilitating Alex by showing him the error of his ways, the Ludovico Treatment eliminates Alex’s free will and renders him as incapable of enjoying Beethoven's 5th Symphony as he is of committing the least aggressive act.
Subtle conditioning by association, the grail of Western Civilization or 'improving culture,' is hijacked here by the politically scheming Minister of the Interior and his team of social-scientists to become a form of brainwashing mind-control: instantaneous, cost-effective, and with 0% recidivism.
Not only is Alex’s waking life held in check by the treatment, but his dreams -- when crude or lascivious -- force him to wake in a confused, panicky sweat.
Cut to CNN, the History Channel, “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “Nip & Tuck,” “Crime Scene Investigation,” Court TV, “The Passion of the Christ,” “City of God,” and Abu Ghraib.
It is my contention that the current morbid fascination with extreme spectacles of violence, torture, incarceration, interrogation, humiliation, surgical invasion and eviscera is beginning to seize contemporary art, for better or for worse, in two ways:
1) work that mirrors elements of the grotesque, the erotic shading into the pornographic, or the sense of claustrophobic helplessness induced by a purely visual landscape of infantile titillation and adolescent destruction and 2) the exhaustion of modernist tropes to the point where only an extreme aesthetic can be heard over the din of competing media.
This exhibition, “The Ludovico Treatment,” seeks to address these two (not mutually exclusive) strains.
Douglas Fishbone's video, “Everybody Loves a Winner” (2004), narrated in the nebbishy voice of the artist, is a montage of images downloaded from the web that features trepanation, a dwarf in diapers, an actual 'frog king,' Clinton shaking Sharon's hand, soldiers beating civilians, various polytheistic idols and trinkets, Heaven's Gate cult members, and jokes about the 'agnostic, dyslexic, insomniac.” Fishbone's video, in its jarring juxtapositions and matter-of-fact tone, is closest to Burgess’s actual aversion therapy.
Shown: Untitled, Dan Kopp
Jeff Sonhouse's painting of a pin-striped street pimp embodies the baroque aesthetic of Picabian appliqué, extreme color, menacing mug-shot portraiture, and blinged-out wardrobe familiar to viewers of early blaxploitation movies like “Shaft.”
Chris Larson's video of a double-decker wooden cybernetic machine resembles a torture device from the Spanish inquisition as much as it does a kind of body-building apparatus from an earlier era of physical culture. Amy Morken’s drawings feature bikini-clad girls with grotesquely attenuated figures.
SunTek Chung’s slick C-prints scramble Asian stereotypes in excessively constructed tableaux of imaginary identities. The Korean-American photographer outfits himself as a cricket player in a kung-fu ready pose. In a second photo, he poses as a ninja in a customized Burberry robe, sitting lazily in front of a cash register in what appears to be a Korean bodega. Throwing stars, or “shuriken” act as abstract decorative motifs. rather than tiny airborne missiles designed to stop your adversary in his tracks.
Tamara Zahaykevich builds desktop-scaled paper and cardboard sculptures [in which] planes seem to intersect each other at odd angles, cutting off pedestrian routes and preempting any thoughts of a utilitarian program. Total idiosyncrasy seems to be the norm for each unique piece.
Ernest Jolicoeur and Dan Kopp’s abstract paintings, like Zahaykevich’s sculpture, both trade in irradiated color schemes that seem to suggest a post-industrial future electrified by Starburst, Bubblelicious, or Fruit Loop-flavored colors.
Exhibition open 12pm-7pm, Tues. through Sat.
Shown/header image: “Meeting at the Crossroads”, (2003)
Oil and mixed media on canvas, 76x65”
[Ed: The original phrase used in Burgess's book is actually "Ludovico's Technique." A brief explanation about the title of the book, themes covered, etc., may be found here.]
Find it: müllerdechiara
Weydinger Strasse, 10
Get info: +49-30-390 320 40