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American Gangster Reprise

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Jacqueline Fraser, The Making of American Gangster 2012 at Michael Lett. Detail. Jacqueline Fraser, The Making of American Gangster 2012 at Michael Lett. Detail. Jacqueline Fraser, The Making of American Gangster 2012 at Michael Lett. Detail. Jacqueline Fraser, The Making of American Gangster 2012 at Michael Lett. Detail. Jacqueline Fraser, The Making of American Gangster 2012 at Michael Lett. Detail. Jacqueline Fraser, The Making of American Gangster 2012 at Michael Lett. Detail.

Almost impossible to photograph because of the placement of several Italian lamps where the light rakes over the textured surfaces - and with several small collages high on the walls - these strutting, cavorting figures (a static form of bump and grind burlesque), once discovered become more vivid and colourful than the shadowy grey actors of the slow moving film.

Auckland

 

Jacqueline Fraser
The Making of American Gangster 2012

 

8 November - 22 December 2012

Judging from its title, this Jacqueline Fraser installation is intended as a critique of the 2007 movie starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington - not so much for any content extolling ‘pimps and bitches’, various African-American sexual caricatures akin to Fraser’s magazine collages you see spread around the gallery - but rather for its glorifying of heroin dealing as a successful business practice, its myth building of capitalism as the all American way.

Fraser uses a dividing wall to simultaneously present two slowed-down screenings of Ridley Scott’s 157 minute long film, the projected beams on each side interrupted by unlit chandeliers and plastic viewer armchairs. It seems to be a pervading ethos she is damning, not specific sorts of imagery or representation - something you might naturally assume from the type of magazine photograph she is characteristically attracted to.

In this dark, underlit show however she moves away from the earlier large, deep framed collages that featured almost lifesized photographs, fabrics, wigs and accoutrements like purses. Apart from her use of Douglas Gordon-style slow cinema, she now seems to be sabotaging the gaze by using reflective plastic, clear cellophane, glittery paper and wrinkled cling film. In these shimmering glossy layers she embeds her torn and cut magazine or book imagery as an imagined, highly extreme, camp remake of Scott’s film.

The use of transparent media here seems to be Fraser‘s symbolic way of claiming her collages to be (besides devices of disruption) a cinematic replacement for Scott’s project, her own peculiar variation of ‘film’ - a symbolic surrogate for acetate. In other words we are witnessing A Remaking of American Gangster 2012.

Almost impossible to photograph because of the placement of some Italian lamps to cause light to rake over the textured surfaces, and multiple reflections - plus with several small collages high on the walls - these strutting, cavorting figures (a static form of bump and grind burlesque), despite their absurdity, once discovered become more vivid and colourful than the shadowy grey actors of the slow moving film. They are ridiculous, but there is a sense they are more alive to the artist than the muted Hollywood protagonists they are juxtaposed with.

Some of these paper ‘gangsters’ have painted bullet wounds and trickling black blood, as if being characters Fraser is mourning over, expressions of carnage she identifies with much more than the very specific violent acts portrayed in the film - or as hated images you assume she might want to destroy. As with the use of cling film and cellophane, and the language of its title, the nature of her imagery in the context of this film creates much contradictory interpretation. This show is a complicated, laminated bed of ambivalences that alternates indecisively between rebuttal and salute, scorn and admiration.

John Hurrell

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