Art Archive: I Have Nothing
I’m thrilled to be included in The Paradiso Cinema Valentine Screening at The Edition, London, on Wednesday, February 14th (scroll down for details). My video, I Have Nothing will be screened in a program of artist's videos about 'music, identity, and sex,' curated by Baron and Baroness Magazine.
I made I Have Nothing in 2007 when I was invited to participate in a group show at Fieldgate Gallery, London. For the exhibition, this 5-minute video was projected floor-to-ceiling in its own room, on a loop, with the audio playing at a full volume.
Inspired by X Factor and Karaoke, I genuinely wanted to capture the same raw emotion as Whitney Houston's iconic performance of I Have Nothing. At the time I was looking at MTV pop music videos, studying singer's faces and video editing techniques. I pre-recorded my singing at Adam Lieber's studio, who at the time had suggested auto-tune but I think we both knew that it was a lost case, plus it was better to keep it raw. The next day I filmed the video in my studio, with a fan, a light, and a mirror while I sang along to the audio. I used 90's style slow-motion / memory / flash-back editing techniques. These flash-backs were clips from other videos that I had made in 2007—Mashi, Tigra, and Livi's Prince.
At my first showing, I received a mixed reaction; some people were angered because they thought I was faking singing this badly, and some people were laughing hysterically. I had previously been wrongly-accused of fakery but I didn't expect laughing. I genuinely wanted to portray the raw heart-breaking emotion that I perceived Whitney to have. Tears of sadness, not tears of laughter. This reaction made me want to cry real tears of failure, but eventually I was quite pleased that, at the very least, I succeeded in conjuring strong emotions, one way or another. To me, this video evokes the tragedy of Whitney Houston's life. Was she really winning in the end? But it is also a reflection of the general public's desire to be able to sing like Whitney, à la X Factor and Karaoke, which can be sad, pathetic, ridiculous, glorious, and uplifting. I don't know about you, but circa 2007, every time I watched X Factor I bawled my eyes out for the failures and the successes. Thank you, Simon Cowell, the ultimate judge! As for the fakery…tsk tsk, shame on you! I mean, it's 2007, what is does “real” even mean?
I Have Nothing was featured in Time Out Magazine. Exhibition history includes: Latitude (Fieldgate Gallery, London), Amass (Boots Contemporary Art Space, St. Louis), Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles (Curator: Dana Turkovik), Shame (Museum Dr. Guislain, Gent, Belgium, with catalogue), and When The Mood Strikes… (Collection of Wilfried & Yannicke Cooreman, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Ghent, with catalogue, included in permanent collection).
If you are in London this Valentine’s Day, come and have a laugh, or a cry.
From the Baron:
Baron and Baroness Magazine x The London EDITION, welcome you to a Valentine screening of The Paradiso Cinema. The Paradiso Cinema is a 60-seat cinema for connoisseurs of the finest films about sex and sexuality. For the third edition of The Paradiso Cinema the theme ‘music, identity and sex’ will be explored. In our postmodern age our animalistic needs are now commoditised into increasingly inventive forms, including music. The screening will investigate how popular music influences and exchanges ideas on elements such as identity, gender, sexuality and sex. Watch films curated by Baron and Baroness Magazine including Boyfriends by Jennifer Chan, Bye Bye Deutschland by Barbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, I Have Nothing by Sarah Baker, Make Believe by Hannah Diamond, Madonna y el Ninoby Trisha Baga and Date with the Devil by No Bra. Get tickets and more information here: https://billetto.co.uk/e/the-paradiso-cinema-tickets-252103
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