Brock Enright, Red White and Blue Basket Ball, 2008 & Pink Backpack, 2008. Photograph by Markus Haugg.
This month’s second Saturday gallery walk saw the attention drawn from the hubbub of the Wynwood Art District to the Design District, where artists Aiden Dillard and Daniel Newman combined forces to present a symbiotic gesture of excess and duality: An exhibition of sadism and humor entitled SCHADENFREUDE, curated by Daniel Newman; and DEATH PRINT, a High-Def art-world action movie directed by Aiden Dillard. Conversely, each event harked to the fragility of their common inception yet enriched and validated the others existence, which in the presence of a film crew, a sparkling navy blue Bentley and with a glamorous piece of prime real estate stuffed with hot, outrageous contemporary art as the setting, appeared for all intents and purposes about as official, moneyed and exclusive as any large scale production in Miami could.
Filming of Death Print in SCHADENFREUDE
Both the exhibition and the film’s conception were simultaneous. ‘Death Print’, which stars Ted Vernon, RubberDoll, Otto Von Schirach, Notorious Nastie, TM Sisters, Clifton Childree, and Troma’s president Lloyd Kaufman charts the hyperbolic tale of a rich collector whose daughter is murdered and artwork stolen. As many of the pivotal scenes in the movie take place in and around an art gallery there was naturally a demand for a location. Meanwhile, Artist and recreational curator Daniel Newman had been cooking up his latest project.
Newman recalls: “The deal was that I was to get the work delivered and the show hung by a certain date that Aiden would start filming. We attended school together and have a decent understanding of each others taste and perspective so we really didn’t need to communicate too much. A third party arranged for us to get the space as we were both in full crazy mode on our own respective projects: mine the show; his the film…”
Installation view of SCHADENFREUDE. Photograph by Markus Haugg.
Regarding the exhibition: Philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno defined schadenfreude as “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate.” The word derives from ‘Schaden’, meaning damage or harm and ‘Freude’, meaning joy. The contributing artists to the exhibition were all very different and yet despite great variations in their creative approach all the works resonated with a more or less unified tone.
“Sometimes” explains Newman “I selected work straight from the artist’s studio. In other cases work was made that specifically fit the artist’s own connection to voyeurism or Schadenfreude. Other pieces came to me at random or were leftovers from other projects. As a result of this process there were many merely coincidental dualities and unforeseeable relationships made. Many themes formed out of this chaos.”
Kristina Williamson, Wiz
The works chosen or given with conscious consideration to the theme naturally fell into a certain bracket and their not-so-coincidental success in encapsulating ‘Schadenfreude’ was obvious. It was the ‘coincidental dualities’ between the works supplied with little or no consideration, however, that were the most interesting. Themes of death for example seemed to play a big, if not wholly unintentional part in the show. Matthew Schreiber’s hologram of an electric chair and Martin Oppel’s painting of a skeleton hand reaching down towards a photograph by Kristina Williamson entitled “Wiz” of a white dead kitten tempered one’s experience of the other less weighty subjects with a morbid aspect. Religious suffering too and fallen religious icons also seemed to be a reoccurring yet apparently inadvertent theme. Serendipity or Schadenfreude, works such as Bhakti Baxter’s charcoal rendering of a late Gothic German sculpture known as Rottgen Pieta; Jacin Giordano’s Christ on the crucifix formed by the directional application of black paint in Giordano’s signature cut and paste style; a crucifix necklace hanging upside down on Gene Moreno’s large double sided sculpture “Below Zero” (2008) and a photograph by Sylvia Gyrion of rosary beads draped across a pair of perfect tits, all amounted to a dogmatic, rhetoric filled punch that again added a hitherto unpremeditated depth.
Jan Galliardt. Photograph by Markus Haugg.
Other recurring motifs included missing heads and heads concealed; spelling mistakes in inscribed titles and even artists signatures; and chairs. Some such as the frequent references to voyeurism and genitalia were to be expected. Others such as a running theme of basket ball equipment were not. Whatever the result, one got the sense that Newman allowed the exhibition project to evolve on its own. “Schadenfreude!” He said in modest defense of his own brilliance. A wise move which served not only to galvanize a sense that the show acted under its own volition, but which automatically passed the book of responsibility from him as curator to the spirit of Schadenfreude when four days after the opening night a leak was pouring water into the space, the main video projector had broken and various wall mounted works had torn from their fixtures and crashed to the floor.
Portrait of Lorena Bobbitt by Tina Tyrell, 2008
In addition to the dualities there are also works which had the strength to withstand the usual barrage of intellectual interrogation on their own. A portrait of Lorena Bobbitt taken by Tina Tyrell less than a month before the show opened, for example, recounted the nations obsessive voyeurism regarding her particular liberty with her husbands johnson; and Clifton Childree, whose piece “Tummy Ache” (1998) featuring his signature vaudeville-esq experimental films also fit the theme by virtue of the artist’s slapstick ‘Three Stooges’ style.
Filming of Death Print in SCHADENFREUDE
Essentially there are two parts to the Schadenfreude experience as known by contemporary Miamians. On one hand we have a very over the top film about the glitz and savagery of art world; on the other a very sensationalist, clichéd art show, full of violence, nudity and humor. The well trodden paths of excess, glamor, and personal exposure combined within both the film and the art show were taken by Dillard and Newman to the Nth degree and beyond, to the point where both became a caricature of their time and each other. And yet, bathed in lights and swarming with throngs of gallery walk gawkers who for the most part venerated little other than the spectacle of the event, both the exhibition and the film equally achieved underlying subtleties which were not only very interesting, but stood testament to the abilities of their organizers to communicate on multiple levels the essence of Schadenfreude.
With this exhibition we are provided a wealth of works (including “Death Print”), which quite by chance culminated (almost conspired) to form a unified alert to the presence in everyday life of the taboo themes of sex, death, fallen religious iconography and inherent error or decay. Out of these concupiscible and irascible powers arose mixed affections and passions of anger, which is a desire of revenge; hatred, which is inveterate anger; zeal, which is offended by he who hurts that which he loves; and schadenfreude, a compound affection of joy and hate borne when we rejoice at others mischief and yet are grieved at their prosperity; pride, self-love, emulation, envy and shame[.]
– Thomas Hollingworth
SCHADENFRUEDE INCLUDED: JESPER ALVAER • DANIEL ARSHAM • CLIFTON CHILDREE • COOPER • JIM DRAIN • BROCK ENRIGHT • DINO FELIPE • DARA FRIEDMAN • JAN GALLIARDT • JACIN GIORDANO • ARAMIS GUTIERREZ • SYLVIA GYRION • MARK HANDFORTH • JASON HEDGES • THE BRUCE HIGH QUALITY FOUNDATION • AL JAFFEE • TOBY KAUFMANN • SINISA KUKEC • NICOLAS LOBO • JUSTIN LONG • LEE MATERAZZI • BEATRIZ MONTEAVARO • GEAN MORENO • DANIEL NEWMAN • MARTIN OPPEL • GAVIN PERRY • TAO REY w/ ZISSEN’S BOWERY • CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL • OLIVER SANCHEZ • MATTHEW SCHREIBER • TOM SCICLUNA • DANIELLE STEAL • JONATHAN THOMAS • REBBË TREPPË • STEPHAN TUGRUL • TINA TYRELL • SANDRA WEVER • KRISTINA WILLIAMSON • GEORGE WOODBRIDGE