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Jan Kopp, Kammerspiel

Martos Gallery
540 West 29th Street, 212-560-0670
January 29 - March 7, 2009
Reception: Thursday, January 29, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

« Man is only fully human when he plays » Friedrich von Schiller

Kammerspiel is a four channel video installation. The screens are organized in a symmetrical order given within a rectangular space, one screen per wall. The video is composed of an introduction and three chapters that follow: the city, the lions and the boy.

The introduction consists of a theatrical setting where on two projections light projectors appear and on the opposite other two screens an actress appears dimly lit reciting and repeating a list of phrases. The phrases start with « it is said… » and define the human, the non-human, the inhuman on levels that go from the most banal to the tragic.

The first chapter consists of an animated pencil drawing of a city. The four screens show a slow moving view over a labyrinthine, organic, dense and chaotic accumulation of concrete houses that cover a hill at which’s top is a large flag flapping in the wind.

The second chapter shows several views of a group of lions mostly lying half asleep. There is no action until a short interruption in which a male and a female lion exchange snarls and strokes of irritation and intimidation. The video is in black and white, slightly tinted in blue giving an impression of an unreal, dreamlike world.

The third chapter consists of another pencil drawing. We see a boy playing with a ball, taping it rhythmically on the floor. The taps are synchronized with music notes played by an acoustic bass, giving a musical echo to the ball game. The four-channel projection is composed like a canon, in a way that the music and images are multiplied in different combinations giving at each time new sound lay-over and visual variations of the event.

The German word Kammerspiel means « Chamber-Play » and evokes both theatre and cinema. It is a space for fiction, a critical playground that mirrors the world.

The video Kammerspiel is a play questioning, looking at and distorting the notion of human nature. The different chapters are proposed as allegorical tableaux. The city can be seen as the place where humans live, where they invent language and form a people or a nation. The lions may be seen as the mystical creatures that humans idealize as a model and the boy playing with the ball as an allegorical image of life.

The video is constructed with seemingly disruptive, incoherent elements that can appear as fragments. It is within this open frame that the spectator’s imagination and experience might melt into the given narrative structures and densify their meaning.

This exhibition is made possible in part by Mangusta Collection. Mangusta is committed to furthering multi channel video art.
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