Critics’ Picks

Prinz Gholam, FMCAeKD, 2008, still from a color video, 20 minutes.

Prinz Gholam, FMCAeKD, 2008, still from a color video, 20 minutes.


Prinz Gholam

Galerie Jocelyn Wolff
78, rue Julien-Lacroix
November 15–December 20, 2008

Two actors pantomime an impassioned conflict. As engrossed spectators lean forward in anticipation, the performers suddenly freeze, their waving arms transformed into grand gestures of sublime stillness. A metaphor for Christianity’s absorption of the eternal by the mundane, this comic sketch is used by Kierkegaard in The Concept of Anxiety (1844) to oppose the retreat from temporality in ancient Greek sculpture’s blind petrifaction. In an anonymous Berlin lot, the duo Prinz Gholam (Wolfgang Prinz and Michel Gholam) shot FMCAeKD, 2008, a video of the artists holding various poses for extended periods, transitioning from one to the other in choreographed sequences. Appropriated from an array of sources that the acronymic title references––from Hellenic sculptures to photographs of nineteenth-century wrestlers––the posturing of the two bodies articulates a suspension, caught at once between Kierkegaard’s notion of repetition, a continuous cycle of the old becoming the new, and recollection, where the old is but an exhumed cadaver. The artists’ bodies pull together and apart, as though electromagnetically charged in attraction and repulsion.

A stool stands in the middle of an adjacent room wherein a series of photographs, “What We See,” 2008, depicts the upside-down and tilted scenarios that the artists fixedly gazed on while posing. Seated in contemplation, viewers might be inclined to tilt their heads, imagining a reiteration of the movements just viewed in FMCAeKD, projected at the gallery’s entrance. In Prinz Gholam’s most recent work, one lives the paradox of contemporary supermodernity, where mimicking the subjectivity of the other is an uncanny exercise in reconciling the outer world with the intimacy of one’s own memories and ideas.