Installation view of Candice Breitz: The Woods at Blaffer Art Museum.

Candice Breitz: The Woods

June 1—August 30, 2014

The Woods  is a trilogy of video installations by renowned South African artist Candice Breitz that takes a close look at the world of child performers and the performance of childhood in order to probe the dreams and promises embedded in mainstream cinema. Consistent with Breitz’s interest in the role that mimicry plays in the forging of selfhood and her ongoing analysis of the circular relationship between real life and reel life, The Woods traverses three continents to explore the rituals and conventions governing the on camera and off-camera personae of professional child actors, as well as adult actors who have become famous playing child roles. The trilogy brings together footage shot in Los Angeles, Mumbai and Lagos, seeking to observe and grasp the aspirational logic that is shared by Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood. Engaging actors and crews whose creative labor would ordinarily be subsumed into these three giant popular cinema industries, the three chapters of The Woods bring a behind the-scenes eye to industries that typically prefer to mask their inner workings.

As suggested by their titles–The AuditionThe Rehearsal and The Interview–in each of the three installations making up The Woods, a particular show business ritual becomes the locus of meaning through which to more broadly reflect upon and decode the machinery of mainstream entertainment. The Woods marks the first time that Breitz has worked with professional actors–in the past, she has preferred to work with amateur casts. In the case of all three works in the trilogy, the actors were left to make their own choices when it came to self-presentation. All actors appear in clothes and accessories from their own wardrobes and were invited to liberally interpret their roles. The Woods is a new work that has been co-commissioned by ACMI (Melbourne) and the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, Massachusetts) and celebrates its American Museum debut at Blaffer Art Museum.

Candice Breitz was born in Johannesburg in 1972. She has lived and worked in Berlin since 2002. She holds degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), the University of Chicago and Columbia University (New York). She has been a tenured professor at the Braunschweig University of Art since 2007. In recent years, solo exhibitions of Breitz’s work have been hosted by the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), De Appel (Amsterdam), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Castello di Rivoli (Turin), White Cube (London), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Standard Bank Gallery (Johannesburg) and South African National Gallery (Cape Town). Breitz has participated in biennales in Johannesburg (1997), São Paulo (1998), Istanbul (1999), Taipei (2000), Kwangju (2000), Tirana (2001), Venice (2005), New Orleans (2008) and Singapore (2011). Selected group exhibitions include New Frontier (Sundance Film Festival, 2009), The Cinema Effect (Hirshhorn Museum + Sculpture Garden, 2008), Made in Germany (Kunstverein Hannover, 2007), Superstars (Kunsthalle Wien, 2005) and Remix: Contemporary Art and Pop (Tate Liverpool, 2002).

The Woods was co-commissioned by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne.