Performative Aspects in Video by American Men

Andy Kaufman
William Lamson
David Levine
Joe Nanashe
Daniel Seiple
Guy Richards Smit (with Maxi Geil! & Playcolt)

curated by John von Bergen

In the seminal 1983 punk song Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies, the song's protagonist "Mike" became an icon for the typically estranged American teenage boy: rebellious and anti-social, yet somehow self-reflective, creative, and heroic. The main problem in the story for Mike, after arguing with his parents about his insular habits, is that they began to make plans for his institutionalization, while all he had wanted was "A Pepsi". A year later that song would become one of the anthems from Repo Man, a cult-classic B-film, that intertwines aspects of philosophy with low-budget special effects. One could say that this particular generation of American underground culture began its exposure with unapologetic absurdity.

The tendencies displayed in this video program involve American men working in some unique variation of post-adolescent performance. As a one night event (gone on tour, so to speak) it becomes an opportunity to examine a small yet diverse group of videos that channel a range of social and anti-social energy. Videos are juxtaposed to explore various aspects of entertainment, humor, irony, subversion, self-preservation, self-destruction, self-documentation, and the occasional sophomoric impulse. "All I Wanted Was A Pepsi" involves the following:

Andy Kaufman is the comedian whose television appearances throughout the 70's and 80's had put him on the map and minds of most American viewers. Towards the end of his career his stunts created more confusion than laughter. One particular event was an appearance on the live-television comedy show "Fridays", where Kaufman decided midway through the skit to stop acting the scene, which erupted into a tumultuous on-stage fight. It is still disputed as to whether this was an unprofessional outburst or a shrewdly calculated prank.

William Lamson's body becomes the vehicle for stop-motion inelasticity. In "Yard" he is dragged across a suburban landscape by an unknown force... a lifeless being, some-"thing" between the whimsical and the morbid. Other videos reveal the artist still in corpse-like stature, interacting with studio contraptions that involve victimized balloons.

David Levine arranged to have a method actor from New York (David Barlow) step completely into the character of a 1950's GDR farmer. Barlow was sent to a field in Brandenburg and grew potatoes, completely in character, and was forced to only use the rural tools of that time. Visitors to the performance could drive out to the countryside and watch his acting dissolve into real farming, as Levine documented his activities.

Joe Nanashe struggles to hold his night-vision camera still as he films himself from arm's length. Steam fills the room and slowly obliterates his image. His attempt at immobility plays out as a minute form of torture before the camera.

Daniel Seiple drove his van for 17 days through The United States in search of hitchhikers. He followed a route that would provide the potential for finding people in need of a lift. Using a road map and a compass, his route literally traced a cartographic "thumbs up." The trip was at once generous, absurd, and technically illegal. His adventure covered 275 kilometers while helping a variety of strangers, and another 6000 kilometers in the pursuit of them.

Guy Richards Smit (with Maxi Geil! & Playcolt) is an artist and music collaboration, with the artist Guy Richards Smit at center stage. In the satirical music video "Artist's Lament" (with introduction by Christoph Draeger), Richards Smit sings "I'm an artist, damn it, I'm a beacon of light!!" as he is swept through disorienting scenarios of blood, stress, and secret agents.

The video work from Type-A (a collaboration between Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin) usually involves the two artists trapped in some form of perpetual, never-ending competition, though "5 Urban Rescues" shows the boys saving each other's lives throughout the streets of New York. "Action", refers to almost every iconic and dramatic Hollywood action scene, as the video portrays carefully planned camera angles that document street-thug tensions.

Thursday, September 25, 8pm
West Germany
Skalitzerstr. 133
(midnight performance by Makita)

Thursday, October 2, 8pm
Kuenstlerverein Malkasten
Jacobistr. 6a
(in cooperation with Level Records)

Friday, October 3, 8pm
Pulverteich 13
(Special Hamburg Guest DJ team: Wolfing-Till-Wicked-in-Pink)

Please note: This is NOT a screening,
but a one night video installation...

For more information please contact:

This project is made possible
with generous support from
these non-Pepsi sponsors: