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Film de vacances, Miami 2006

C OLle c tI v e a N G S t

Why would two Parisian artists name themselves after a collective farm in the former Soviet Union? Well, Kolkoz began on a shoestring in the late 1990s, and founders Benjamin Moreau and Samuel Boutruche have always viewed their partnership as more than the sum of its parts, working with technicians, artists and assistants to realise their kooky visions. Their talent lies in destabilising the obvious clichéés of virtual reality. In their series of holiday movies shot in Miami, Hong Kong and Formentera, they animate the requisite shaky home video footage. The me-on-abus, me-standing-by-another-wonder-ofthe-world shots that have terrorised friends and neighbours since the birth of package holidays, become oddly compelling. Even the dumb-ass goofing and hand waving takes on a surreal dimension. With their shots of street life, hotel swimming pools and public monuments, Kolkoz offer not a portrait of the city where they are holidaying, but a sterile world that has no distinguishing features. Grey fish desultorily tap their mouths against a glass tank, children in uniforms walk to school, restaurants with overhead lighting become nondescript canteens. Even the palm trees and boardwalks of Miami have an “anywhere” feel to them. We’ve seen it all

Soviet-inspired Art Duo Kolkoz Fabricate Worlds Where Reality And The Computer Generation Collide With Nihilist Intent

before, and so many times that it’s become part of the homogenised travelogue of life. Kolkoz screen these films in fabricated interiors. Monochrome and boxy, they are lounges for the Ikea generation. Their installation at the Frieze Art Fair last October featured one of these rooms painted in pallid grey, and amid the razzmatazz of London’s premier art exhibition, this colourless place sucked the life out of its visitors, transforming them into aimless zombies in a Kolkoz dream. A similar game of detachment is played out in their Arab portraits, based on Chinese Whispers (known as Arab Telephone in France). A drawing of a celebrity is sent to someone to copy, and the copy is then sent to the next person on the list. As they go down the list, the face of the personality becomes misshapen and cartoon-like until it is entirely

unrecognisable. KISS frontman Gene Simmons becomes a weird mixture of Hello Kitty! and one of the Moomin trolls, while Jesus becomes a frenetic collection of scribbles, a saviour for the abstract expressionist generation. But more pertinently, these distorted scribbles say something about our relationship with fame and how easily our perceptions can be warped. It’s a canny act for a duo that hide their personalities behind a failed ideology, and that’s the crunch. For all their references to modern life, from video games and manga to tourism, Kolkoz are nihilists, offering their audience a vision of life that’s devoid of true meaning. Look around you, they seem to say, does any of this really matter? Text Jessica Lack

Images courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin

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