The work of Slater Bradley (San Francisco, 1975) so far has largely explored the figure and the concept of the doppelgänger. In this case, it is the look-alike of the artist himself, Benjamin Brock, whom he met one evening and has since then played a major role in the artist’s photos and videos.
Brock “plays” Bradley “playing” another character, as in the videos in the Doppelgänger Trilogy, recently acquired by the Guggenheim Museum, New York. In these works, his doppelgänger is reincarnated as Ian Curtis, Kurt Cobain and Michael Jackson as he acts out the typical appropriationistic fantasy all teenage fans dream of. Concluding this starstruck experience, in his video “My Conclusion / My Necessity”, Bradley films scenes at the graves of other artists such as Jim Morrison or Oscar Wilde at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
Bradley’s doppelgänger allows the artist to do what is out of reach to common mortals: he splits into artist and object, is on both sides of the camera at once, thus allowing him to cast an irony laden gaze on the whole creative process.Bradley draws inspiration for his work from his own biographical experience and from external references, particularly from popular culture, ranging from Godard to Joy Division. In fact, music plays a key role in instilling emotional heft to his work.In this exhibition the artist is presenting the video “Dark Night of the Soul”, with his doppelgänger now dressed as an astronaut exploring the empty spaces of The Museum of Natural History. He looks at a world he cannot touch, a world of the dead or long ago. Meanwhile he carries in his hand a music box playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. Tinged with sadness, it seems to mourn for a lost world. In this case, the most obvious influences are Kubrick’s “2001, A Space Odyssey” and Douglas Trumbull’s “Silent Running”.
While this video timetravels through the last million years of the history of our planet, the photographs in this show revisit Bradley’s own history and career.
Taking well-known images from his production as a starting point, he then intervenes in them with gold paint, reframing, redoing, retouching or rebuilding them, turning the photographs into drawings and partly covering the image, giving rise to new scenes. But the object also becomes something new, even reminiscent of Byzantine art or perhaps the work of Gustav Klimt. The work itself turned into an icon of present-day culture.