Saturday, December 02, 2006

Matthew Boyko and the Tabloid Self

Matthew Hughes Boyko, a young San Francisco video artist, has organized the next exhibit at Café Royale in the city. It’s a group show called “Celebrity,” which opens on Thursday, December 7th with a reception from 8:00 to 11:00 pm. Tickets for the opening may be printed from Boyko’s website at no charge. The address of the café, misprinted in some promotional materials, is 800 Post St. (near Leavenworth St.).

A catalog for the show, soon to be posted on Boyko’s site, will include essays by several luminaries, including (ha-ha) myself. A video trailer and a poster for the show are already available on the site.

Boyko’s artwork belongs to the lineage of Andy Warhol. He is interested in the phenomenon of celebrity and, more generally, in the behavior of anyone in front of a camera. He shows a special interest is marginal celebrities who become tabloid fodder despite a lack of talent or even a distinctive personality. With friends captured in his own videos, and with strangers on internet videos, he is interested in the ways people make themselves interesting in front of a camera. He is fascinated by celebrity behavior and by the tendency of people to imitate such behavior once they are on camera. In part, his work monitors a shift in social boundaries signaled by the willingness of so many young people to present themselves on internet video in modes that are confessional or blatantly erotic. He approaches these issues as more than an observer: he often puts himself in front of the camera (see below).

Although Boyko relies on the camera and bits of staging to frame human behavior, his work hints at the performative aspects of daily life, where the human body and its accoutrements operate directly. He seems to float questions about what constitutes the self, and what is real in anyone’s personality. His work taps into the culture’s subliminal unease about the self in a world where everything is both fabricated and deconstructed.

Boyko adopts a manner suited to his subject. As you watch his people feint, wobble, dodge, and strain in their attempts to put across a persona, the spectacle may be unnerving, but it’s undoubtedly entertaining.

(Images from Matthew Hughes Boyko website and DVD.)

No comments: