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PRINT October/November 2020

CLOSE-UP: THIRST TRAP

Ken Okiishi, Vital Behaviors, 2019, HD video, color, sound, 64 minutes. Brian Altemus.

“I FEEL A BIT, LIKE, DARKER TODAY,” says actor, model, and SoulCycle instructor Brian Altemus at the beginning of Ken Okiishi’s video Vital Behaviors, 2019. The premise is straightforward: Standing in front of the artist’s camera, Altemus replicates shots of himself on his Instagram feed. Okiishi, meanwhile, sits behind a mostly stationary lens, filming him for the duration of the roughly hour-long work. The setup is not immediately apparent, nor are the dynamics between artist and model; Okiishi interjects only sporadically, briefly. What is apparent, from the beginning, is that we are here to watch Altemus.

Ken Okiishi, Vital Behaviors, 2019, HD video, color, sound, 64 minutes. Brian Altemus.

For the occasion, it was agreed that Altemus would create a playlist to conjure a distinct “mood” for each shot, much as he would for his SoulCycle class. Yet the vibe also has a discernible current of erotic tension. Altemus is hot, and, along with Okiishi, we watch

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