Candice Breitz, "Becoming Jennifer"

Becoming

Candice Breitz

  • Year 2003
  • Edition Edition 1/5
  • Material/Technique 14-channel video installation (color, sound) on monitor
  • Dimensions Variable
  • Length 31''- 56''
  • Category Media art

The 14-channel installation Becoming by Candice Breitz explores the relationship between medial role models and imitation. The artist, who was born in South Africa in 1972 and lives in Berlin, slips into the role of seven popular Hollywood actresses (Drew Barrymore, Neve Campbell, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan and Reese Witherspoon). The fourteen monitors are mounted in pairs back-to-back. Each set is mounted on a tall black pedestal, and these are generously arranged in the exhibition space. On one screen of each set of monitors, viewers see one of the actresses in a short emotional sequence from a well-known film—such as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman or Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail—from which Breitz removed their respective male co-stars. On the second screen, one sees the artist — dressed in a plain white blouse and black trousers —performing the same scene in a neutral white space. The two monitor are connected to a common sound track via headphones, so that viewers cannot watch both scenes simultaneously. The contrast between the Hollywood film in color and Breitz’s physical mimicry in black and white could hardly be more extreme, and it exposes the artificiality of the supposedly natural-looking film scene. The stereotypical female role models, which are reproduced to this day, are perceived as if seen through a magnifying glass. With her installation Becoming, Breitz raises questions about female identity and its media representation, which remain as relevant as ever.

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