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Looking Pretty for God (After G.W.)
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27'00''
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2008
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"Looking Pretty for God was commissioned by Anselm Franke and Hila Peleg for Manifesta 7, and by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Several months before Manifesta, Anselm told me that the working concept for the show was “the soul.” At first, I thought he was joking. When I realized there was a possibility that he was serious, I decided to take on the concept as seriously as I could, accepting it as a personal challenge. I come from a militantly secular family and don’t have the background of religious practice, spiritual beliefs or even a sense of tradition that could help in this matter. Also, unlike triggers for previous projects that were all about discrete historical events, their witnesses and reenactors, I understood the soul to be more of a ‘big’ concept, fluid but nevertheless as historically contingent as abstract concepts can get. And so, lacking a personal angle on the matter, the first step was to find people who could talk about the soul in first-person, who could explain to me what happens when a person dies. I had already talked with several clergymen of small-town churches while producing a project in Virginia in 2005. I did not want to go through those doors again. So while visiting New York for the Whitney Biennial, I lined up meetings with funeral directors in Staten Island, Manhattan and Queens, knowing that the technical nature of their jobs could anchor the conversation and keep it from dipping into territory for which I was ill-prepared. As the professionals responsible for a deceased person’s last public appearance, funeral directors’ line of work falls somewhere between make-up artistry, plastic surgery, sculpture, PR, grief counseling, event planning, and magic. Their profession is also emblematic of modernity’s specialization of production and work, and their segregation from the consuming public. As the funeral directors speak about what they do off-camera, stills fi lmed inside the funeral home are intercut with scenes depicting a commercial photo shoot involving child models. Occasionally, aspects seen in the photo shoot appear to coincide with things the funeral directors describe: the application of make-up, the proper posing of hands and face, achieving an ideal facial expression and an overall finish, the work involved in creating a memorable image. As the camera wanders around the frozen expressions and bodies, the models’ normally passive stance is occasionally interrupted as one suddenly speaks, in complete synch with the voiceover, as if channeling a voice. It’s a gimmick, obviously, but when it works it succeeds in relating two distinct industries involved in creating two very different image products. Also, in as much as a performance can possess or transform the person performing (and of course hopefully the one watching) the child-actor’s sudden break into pantomime briefl y brushes across the spiritual realm, at least as closely as I can imagine at this moment in life."
Omer Fast
Excerpt from an interview with Chen Tamir published in Flash Art #262, October 2008

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 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

Looking Pretty for God (After G.W.)

"Looking Pretty for God was commissioned by Anselm Franke and Hila Peleg for Manifesta 7, and by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Several months before Manifesta, Anselm told me that the working concept for the show was “the soul.” At first, I thought he was joking. When I realized there was a possibility that he was serious, I decided to take on the concept as seriously as I could, accepting it as a personal challenge. I come from a militantly secular family and don’t have the background of religious practice, spiritual beliefs or even a sense of tradition that could help in this matter. Also, unlike triggers for previous projects that were all about discrete historical events, their witnesses and reenactors, I understood the soul to be more of a ‘big’ concept, fluid but nevertheless as historically contingent as abstract concepts can get. And so, lacking a personal angle on the matter, the first step was to find people who could talk about the soul in first-person, who could explain to me what happens when a person dies. I had already talked with several clergymen of small-town churches while producing a project in Virginia in 2005. I did not want to go through those doors again. So while visiting New York for the Whitney Biennial, I lined up meetings with funeral directors in Staten Island, Manhattan and Queens, knowing that the technical nature of their jobs could anchor the conversation and keep it from dipping into territory for which I was ill-prepared. As the professionals responsible for a deceased person’s last public appearance, funeral directors’ line of work falls somewhere between make-up artistry, plastic surgery, sculpture, PR, grief counseling, event planning, and magic. Their profession is also emblematic of modernity’s specialization of production and work, and their segregation from the consuming public. As the funeral directors speak about what they do off-camera, stills fi lmed inside the funeral home are intercut with scenes depicting a commercial photo shoot involving child models. Occasionally, aspects seen in the photo shoot appear to coincide with things the funeral directors describe: the application of make-up, the proper posing of hands and face, achieving an ideal facial expression and an overall finish, the work involved in creating a memorable image. As the camera wanders around the frozen expressions and bodies, the models’ normally passive stance is occasionally interrupted as one suddenly speaks, in complete synch with the voiceover, as if channeling a voice. It’s a gimmick, obviously, but when it works it succeeds in relating two distinct industries involved in creating two very different image products. Also, in as much as a performance can possess or transform the person performing (and of course hopefully the one watching) the child-actor’s sudden break into pantomime briefl y brushes across the spiritual realm, at least as closely as I can imagine at this moment in life."
Omer Fast
Excerpt from an interview with Chen Tamir published in Flash Art #262, October 2008

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

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