Working Class hero (A portrait of John Lennon)

Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney is proud to present Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon) by Candice Breitz from 27 July to 28 September 2013. Candice Breitz is an internationally renowned artist originally from South Africa and today living in Berlin.

Art Exhibition previously on at Anna Schwartz Gallery - Sydney in Chippendale precinct, New South Wales, Australia.
From Saturday 27 July 2013 to Saturday 28 September 2013

Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon) image Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon) image

Published by anonymous on Friday 21 June 2013.
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Her video installations typically use the stereotypes and visual conventions of film and popular culture to explore the relationship between the god-like presence of pop stars and their awestruck fans.

Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon) is a 25-channel video installation depicting 25 John Lennon fans singing his 1970 solo album Plastic Ono Band in its entirety. Breitz filmed each singer’s emotion-packed a cappella performance, removing Lennon’s voice and all backing music except for the bells which signal the start of the album.

In Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon), Breitz offers Lennon’s fans a chance, through their performances, to recreate the songs that have become the sound tracks to their lives. The portraits invite us to imagine a charismatic cultural icon not as a monolithic and isolated figure, but rather as a complex composite of those whose stories s/he has told and those whose lives continue to be inflected through his/her music. The portrayal of celebrity consists here entirely of the accumulative interpretations of a community of fans.

The 25 performers were selected by Breitz from the hundreds who responded to advertisements placed in newspapers, magazines and fanzines, as well as on the Internet. The advertisement offered participants the opportunity to re-perform a complete Plastic Ono Band album, all 39 minutes and 55 seconds from the first song to the last, in a professional recording studio.

“Having set the parameters of the experience, Breitz then allows the performances to unfold with little directorial interference. It is left up to each fan to decide what to wear, whether to use props, how to address the camera, when and if to dance, whether and how to follow the lead or backing vocals, how to behave between tracks, and whether to mimic the original recording or seek interpretive distance from it. Diverse as they are, the portraits are collectively characterized by a riveting tension between the somewhat inflexible conditions under which each shoot takes place (conditions which both reflect and reflect upon the severe limitations for creativity within the commodified realm of mass entertainment), and the struggle of each fan to register an idiosyncratic performance despite these conditions.” (Jenny Sekwa, Berlin, December 2006)

Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon) explores not only fan culture but the broader relationship society has with mainstream entertainment. In a recent interview with Raimar Stange, Breitz spoke of how: "We define ourselves by the music that we listen to, by the songs that we first heard at key moments in our past lives. Pop seems to offer opportunities for self-invention – this is what makes it so seductive. The problem with pop, of course, is that the kinds of selves that it encourages us to invent are usually passive and predetermined, which means that rather than truly being offered a moment of self- invention, we are invited to shape ourselves in moulds which have already been poured.”

Candice Breitz was born in 1972 in Johannesburg, and currently lives and works in Berlin. Solo exhibitions include Void Contemporary Art Space, Derry, Northern Ireland (2013), Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg (2013), South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2012), Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg (2012), Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2011), Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio (2011), Kunsthaus Bregenz, (2010), The Power Plant, Toronto (2009), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009), Temporäre Kunsthalle, Berlin (2008), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2008), Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2005), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2005), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2004), Modern Art Oxford (2003), De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam (2001) and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2000).

She has participated in many major exhibitions including the 11th Singapore Biennial (2011), Performa 09, New York (2009), Göteborg International Biennial, Sweden (2009), Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2007), Kunsthalle Mannheim (2006), 51st Venice Biennale (2005), Kwangju Biennale, Korea (2000), Taipei Biennale (2000), 6th Istanbul Biennial (1999), XXIV São Paulo Biennial (1998) and The Johannesburg Biennale (1997).