The ArtCat calendar is closed as of December 31, 2012. Please visit Filterizer for art recommendations.


Robert Boyd: Xanadu


Participant Inc.
253 East Houston Street, 212-254-4334
East Village / Lower East Side
April 9 - May 14, 2006
Reception: Sunday, April 9, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

The individual video works that form Xanadu probe society’s self-destructive impulse while parodying various elements of popular culture such as cartoons, pop music, documentaries, and news media. Culled from hundreds of hours of archival footage including that of Doomsday cults, iconic political figures, and global fundamentalist movements, Xanadu tweaks, condenses, and re-frames modern events into seconds long image bites, representing a history of apocalyptic thought as a series of MTV-style music videos within a setting reminiscent of a discotheque.

The choice of disco reverses the classic ‘70s punk vs. disco dichotomy, in which the harbingers of “no future” were clearly the self-disenfranchised punks. In Boyd’s construction, supported by extreme and often violent footage meticulously gathered over the course of several years, we see a current worldview in which mass annihilation and the Apocalypse are solidly in the hands of those empowered by their people. His choice of dance music suggests a volatile segue from the “feel good” generation of the late `70s to the current “feel bad” generation of the ‘00s. Taken as a whole, the Xanadu videos insinuate that humanity is not apathetic about its own demise, but on the contrary, is furtively engineering it through a form of collective self-destruction. By placing together the familiar and the fringe, legitimate and notorious figures, Boyd’s particular brand of unsettling mimicry acts as a displacement of meaning, much like his prior works The Virgin Collection and Deathstars, for example, but this time dealing with issues of patriotism, nationalism, and fundamentalism in relation to Apocalyptic ideologies.

Related blog post: James Wagner
Have photos of this show? Tag them with artcal-2176 to see them here.