Critics’ Picks

Louis-Philippe Scoufaras, Panic, 2014, 3-D video projection, color, sound, 90 minutes.

Berlin

Louis-Philippe Scoufaras

xavierlaboulbenne
Schönleinstrasse 5
February 6 - March 13

Louis-Philippe Scoufaras’s ninety-minute 3-D video projection Panic, 2014, is kitschy in a particular way: Kitsch, traditionally understood as a break with good taste, is today widely accepted as high art. Scoufaras returns to it at a moment when it is no longer possible to use it effectively on an aesthetic level. Thus, it is not the appearance of Panic that is kitschy. In fact, the installation, which shows two men having peaceful sex in front of a deserted mountain landscape that overlooks the sea, with a trance-inducing sound track, is neither pornographic nor more or less kitschy than many other contemporary works.

But nothing in this calm and nearly banal projection is what it seems to be. The setting, the music, and even the intercourse function as carriers of an excess of intended meaning. The press release clarifies that one sees two actors translating the TK CENTURY[note TK] Roman sculpture Pan Copulating with Goat into movement and performance. This reference is not only echoed in the sound track, which is a digitally stretched version of Ravel’s Le lever du jour (Sunrise) from his 1912 composition Daphnis et Chloé (Daphnis and Chloe); it is also further contextualized in the setting. Set on Mount Sodom, Israel, the scene connects these mythological references to biblical narratives, and the long history of the regulation and repression of sexuality. It is this excessive referential meaning that implies the need for commentary and hence, with a certain panic, a new, theoretical form of kitsch.