NUMBER SIX: FLAMING CREATURES. 8 September 2012 - 29 June 2013

A “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration,” is how writer Susan Sontag described the concept of “camp”, which forms the red thread running through this exhibition from the JULIA STOSCHEK COLLECTION. “Camp” is an exaggerated kind of perception that emerged in the course of aestheticism and dandyism. “Camp” first came into being at the turn of the 20th century and peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. 

A key starting point for the exhibition, and one of immense historical importance, is the work of US underground artist, performer and filmmaker Jack Smith (born in 1932. Died in 1989); his scandal-sparking film FLAMING CREATURES (1962-63) is the source of the title of the new presentation.
Jack Smith’s oeuvre strongly inspired an entire generation of artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Wilson, Cindy Sherman, John Waters and Mike Kelley. Without him, “Camp”, Punk and Pop-Postmodernism would be inconceivable, as would experimental theater.
FLAMING CREATURES is a surrogate for something that manifestly materializes as an extreme, excessive and exuberant element in the positions taken by the individual artists. In this context, Jack Smith should be seen not as the source of the idea, but as a key position in a critical enquiry into reality and fiction, identity and gender.

An appropriation of fictitious realities or creaturely processes is common to all the works represented in the show. Pieces by Aura Rosenberg, Tony Oursler, Bruce Nauman and Paul McCarthy, serve to sharpen the exhibition’s focus on how each artist explores the self and self-alienation. By using disguise or clown-like exaggeration the artists involved create a new dimension, one not limited to film and instead also including a physical level.
Moreover, a conscious addressing of pop and trivial culture is a further connecting element. In particular, Ryan Trecartin, Ed Ruscha as well as Paper Rad, Mike Kelley and John Bock adapt these themes in their works, subjecting them to an ironic twist.

The Hatje-Cantz Verlag will be publishing a catalog to accompany the exhibition in November 2012.

Artist list

John Bock, Lizzie Fitch, Birgit Hein, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Tony Oursler, Peaches, Paper Rad, Peaches, Aura Rosenberg, Ed Ruscha, Jack Smith, Gwenn Thomas, Ryan Trecartin