James Bantone “HORRIPILATIONS” at Karma International, Zurich

By Last Updated: December 23, 2023Views: 218

Horripilations are as a lot about concern as they’re about adrenaline. Involuntary, they signify a bodily or psychological concern materialized within the pores and skin. For artist James Bantone, the time period capabilities like a inexperienced display screen—a background, a turning into area, and dually, a misleading, reconfigured atmosphere suffuse with motion and manipulation of the physique. Bantone’s second solo-exhibition with Karma Worldwide, “HORRIPILATIONS,” extends his recurring querying / queering of the uncanny as a website of each horror and play.

Central to the presentation is the artist’s exploration of latest id obsession and cultural efficiency by way of the barbershop. Horripilations (2023), a brand new video work created throughout a summer time residency on the Swiss Institute in New York Metropolis, follows a fictional hairdresser referred to as the “Heartless” who events across the metropolis in a 50-inch wig protecting her face and heart-shaped eye patch, rumored to be eyeless. A rating by London-based artist Alx Dabo grounds the work in an enthralling sonic composition of ambling synths and echoing whispers. Bantone’s buddies are forged as characters who personify parodic gestures in euphoric delusion as they overlap from one liminal area (hallucinatory fantasy) to a different—a inexperienced display screen barbershop, a mannequin dangling out of a fast-moving automotive crossing the Manhattan bridge, and looped nightlife footage. Finally, the movie culminates in a melodramatic homicide. A customer first encounters the movie by way of enlarged stills adhered as stickers on the gallery’s home windows. The vinyl exhibits close-ups of particular person characters with deadpan stares throughout the inexperienced display screen scene, emphasizing a threshold of the general public and the non-public folding in on itself. Right here, the barbershop is condensed to a pose.

Contained in the gallery, three-channels of frenetic sequences are projected on PVC cloth display screen printed with stills of CCTV surveillance footage from precise barbershops. These blurred pictures hover on the video projections like a presence responding to mild within the room. Contemplate this an area of elastic labor; elasticity as place stained by time, and labor as reconfigured self. With out denying or fetishizing the intimacy that emerges from the care rituals of a barbershop, particularly for Black and Brown folks, Bantone upends it as an area of hegemonic masculinity again into the orbit of want. His inquiry attends to Eve Ok. Sedgwick’s identification of the homosocial as a social bond between members of the identical intercourse, usually males, usually accompanied by feared distinction or phobia1 (distinction of queerness / homophobia).

A collection of 9 small portraits titled Entrepreneur of the Self (2023) depict quite a few hair mannequins that every comprise refined variations. We see slight degradations of their wigs, face, lips, eye make-up, value tags, and in Bantone’s personal intervention on the pictures. Achille Mbembe writes that underneath accelerating capitalism a brand new type of psychic life emerges primarily based on synthetic and digital reminiscence. The human topic turns into fictionalized as an “entrepreneur of the self,” a type of “ready-made summary type” attribute of the brand new relationships it establishes between truth and fiction, able to absorbing any content material.2 Bantone places ahead the model as spinoff of this phenomena. The article therein throughout retail areas and retailer shows is at all times already underneath surveillance—the “I” remaining perpetually uncanny in its lack of care, or traits. A duplicate of a duplicate of a duplicate. Hannah Black means that the “4 genders of character are: pretext, archetype, self, and fantasy.”3 To which do these faces, and Bantone’s characters in Horripilations, belong? On this context the phrase “pores and skin crawling,” a sensation generally related to horror movies, maybe is an end result of horripilations too. It’s a tactile hallucination, a(pores and skin)g, working away from itself onto one other “I,” reconfigured, one other appropriated self as a monument of commodity.

New sculptural works resembling OPEN (what? what? what?) (2023), If you happen to see me and also you tryna see what’s up (2023) and OPEN (slatt) (2023), are created from an accumulation of images of New York Metropolis barbershop façades rendered by way of an acrylic and gel elevate switch course of on metal and aluminum sheets. Held on the partitions, they maintain textured residue akin to what we’d see on wheatpaste road commercials. The stakes of Bantone’s gestures are etherealization disguised as alienation—as a picture fades it spills into an improvised soliloquy of advert libs drawn from lyrics by widespread Black American rap artists referred to within the titles. The works cipher between traces of architectural exteriors and the documented reminiscence of them, seen or spoken, rendered indiscernible. And what occurs after we converse to vacancy? Of their extended vacancy, they tackle the spirit of a non-place—a disquieting area of transience and anonymity.

We all know what solipsism-fueled horror seems like after we handle extra (suppose Occasion Monster (2003) or Climax (2018)) however what sort of horror emerges after we additionally discuss lack? In “HORRIPILATIONS” Bantone realizes a multidisciplinary exploration of each area and void unthreatened by a persistent search to bypass displacement, consequence, or concern.
—Angelique Rosales Salgado

at Karma Worldwide, Zurich
till January 13, 2024

1    Eve Ok. Sedgwick, Between Males: English Literature and Homosocial Need (New York: Columbia College Press, 1985).
2    Achille Mbembe, “TWO THE WELL OF FANTASIES,” in Critique of Black Cause, translated by Lauren Dubois (Durham: Duke College Press, 2017), 103.
3    Hannah Black, DARK POOL PARTY (Los Angeles: Dominica/Arcadia Missa, 2016), 10

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