12 Dec – 24 Jan 2010


Dafna Maimon

The video works and performances by Dafna Maimon (1982) are studies of the behaviour, language use and body language of young, emerging artists.

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They are amusing yet doleful portraits of the artist, her friends and colleagues. In her videos, Maimon sets characters and extras in filmic settings – a stretch limo or hip Manhattan condo. The actors are generally artists she knows or people specially chosen as representatives of a specific group or occupation such as SM masters and mistresses, or bodybuilders. She users her characters in a number of ways – sometimes as objects or as a large group of subjects, sometimes as tragic heroes and often as couples in failed attempts at intimacy. Costumes, make-up and props are made and used in varying stages of perfection or disarray.

A telling illustration of her working methods and objective is the performance/photowork Amateur Body Builder Gradient. For this piece, Maimon stitched together a backdrop of different-coloured vertical bands of fabric. Next, the artist invited several amateur bodybuilders to run through their muscle-man poses, placing each man before a different coloured panel, depending on his skin colour. Having graded her subjects against this ‘colour spectrum’ according to the tone of their skin, Maimon photographed them. In this work the hierarchy of skin colour competes with the size and development of musculature. The bodybuilders are not only presented as the possessors and makers of their own bodies, but also simultaneously categorised and defined by them.

Discipline Aid Attempt No 1 (confessions of a video artist) is a self-portrait of the artist’s bid to work her way into the New York art world by trying to make an appointment to see Barbara Gladstone in person. To whip up her self confidence to the point that the artist wields the supremely courteous arrogance required to breach the obstacle of Gladstone’s assistants, Maimon is aided by a professional SM master and mistress hired especially for the project. The two professionals are permanently at her side, ready to punish any weakening of her resolve with verbal violence and an array of exotic tools.

Presented on a series of ten screens facing each other the video installation Extras, conceived especially for W139, involved the artist moving temporarily to Los Angeles. In the spring of 2009 Maimon filmed various scenes there with and about actors just starting out, ambitious to conquer Hollywood. Casting the participants was part of the project and, in a sense, its core. The idea was to audition for the male role of a caveman and a femme fatale in 1930s dress. The final choice went to five actors and five actresses who simultaneously play the two roles in identical costumes. The resulting installation brings together the footage culled from the auditions, the shots of the cavemen in the hills beneath the Hollywood letters, the material shot while the five actresses all put on their makeup in a car’s mirrors, interviews with the boy next door who also turns out to be an actor and an intimate shower scene of one of the cave dwellers with the director.

Near the ocean, close to the apartment that was her temporary home in Venice Beach, Maimon also shot a number of improvised scenes about the director’s ego. She also wrote a script, a kind of speech to be given in turn by both groups of actors. Individually or as a chaotic chorus they relate their ideals and their setbacks.

The title Extras refers to the extras on a DVD menu. Maimon’s Extras shows leftover images and individuals. She gives the film industry’s pool of “human resources” an identity and a voice. The extras of Hollywood play a part in Maimon’s personal story about her life as a young struggling artist. For her solo exhibition, Maimon installs a circle of ten screens presenting edited scenes and loops of her latest footage.

Photo's: Henni van Beek en Dafna Maimon

With thanks to:
Fonds BKVB