The 27 Club, 2011: Artist Statement

 

The 27 Club is a kinetic installation that muses on the hyperreality in which fame operates. Celebrities are simultaneously beings of flesh and blood and also symbolic entities. Their lives are comprised of a network of consumer opinions about them, formed exclusively through a hologram of text and images distilled by a self-reflexive media process. Our ideas about celebrities are thus not only completely disconnected from any basis in reality, they in fact produce and constitute that reality.

The title of the work refers to the media-driven meme that musicians (originally Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones) frequently die at the age of 27 - although visual artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is also a 'member'. The idea was revived in the media after the death of Kurt Cobain, Kristen Pfaff and Amy Winehouse. Public perceptions of these deaths illustrate several interesting relationships between media producers, consumers and subjects.

Fame is often the goal of artists in every field, but the way fame operates in hyperreality is different to the way it did in the days before total media saturation: since media is everything we can know about a person, the artist does not necessarily have to remain alive in order to become or remain famous, marketable and commodified. The 27 Club employs the "reluctant suicide" of an electric guitar on stage as a metaphor for the spectacle we require of an artist's life (including, ideally, their death), in order to better consume their fame.