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darren leaf

"fuck off"

faces from the art world and the real world beyond, photographed by performance artist leaf – society hiding behind the same pair of spectacles. inscribed with the words ‘fuck off’ in capitals. its starting point a photography competition (which he didn’t win), for the past seven years leaf has asked a huge range of people, friends and total strangers, to put on his customized spectacles and have their picture taken with a point and shoot camera. people refuse. those who don’t, treat the opportunity variously, all the way from blank shock as if they’ve already forgotten what they’ve signed up for, to posing self-consciously. (some are at art openings. some are tipsy).

at first glance there’s some short-changing going on in leaf’s slide-show – a meagre five seconds or fame cut down from the expected fifteen minutes. but by cutting back on the allotted timespan the chances of everyone getting in on the act are concomitantly increased. this is the generosity and the ambiguity at the heart of leaf’s project. like the cartographer in borges’ short story, leaf’s work is potentially all-inclusive, a one-to-one inventory. for as well as everyone who’s here and everyone who isn’t yet because he hasn’t met them there’s the also the third interesting category – those not here because they refused.

what’s the message? unwaveringly poised – either side of the argument is there for you to put your interpretive weight upon. we’re confronted. affronted too? the simple contradictions between apparent aggression and compliant posing stabilizes all opposition. the amusement on the faces of those chosen to be these temporary stars – in a sort of visual karaoke – is usually at odds with the prop. these are are a long way from signs that say what they mean.

imposed from without, these frames aloe us to focus upon an un-framed reality. it is the background, it’s the context, it’s the person – the message on the glasses is a pretext – the fixative that secures the image. (the mcguffin to use an over-used film term). however this peculiar ‘film’ dispenses with narrative. doesn’t develop any plot; becomes a multiplying crowd of faces – an identity parade for no specified crime. there is no mystery but there is suspense as each new slide displaces the one before. when will i be famous or have i missed me already?

a fuck off or a come-on – the ambivalence is on a dizzying scale which cannot offend. permission has been granted. this mixed message goes from leaf to the subject and back to leaf – by completing the circle meaning is poised between aggression and gratified vanity. yet even if you are one of those snapped the chances of your seeing your image in this continuous projection is pretty much of a lottery. whose vanity is therefore pandered to? whose performance is it anyway? with a continuing cast of thousands we watch as the parade goes by.

here comes everyone.




mit unterstützung von: ottakringer kulturfreunde      nationalfonds der republik österreich      wien kultur       bezirk ottakring       Falter