Portretten [Portraits]

Guy Mees


Film, 00:03:00.
Materials: 16 mm film, b/w, sound

Collection: Collectie M HKA, Antwerpen / Collectie Vlaamse Gemeenschap (Inv. no. BK007207).

Portraits is the second section of the group of works entitled Level Differences. In the series Level Differences, each time three persons appear on three different levels, on a podium of breezeblocks. The platform was movable, which meant that the work could be shown in a wide variety of locations. A series of portraits emerged of a wide range of people, mostly friends and family of the artist, who enact a short, rather absurd performance. By having the actors change position, the hierarchical stance within the group changes: upper, middle and under. Due to their mutual interchangeability this hierarchy is simultaneously disturbed and put into perspective. The idea behind this series is the demarcation of a distinction, a difference, which is demonstrated by the protagonists. The cameras are only there to record this clarification process. In the early 1970s there was detailed debate about power relationships and hierarchical regulation. This theme connects with a leitmotif in the work of Guy Mees: investigations into systems, classification, seriality and standardization. With the principle of Level Differences and the use of photography and film, Guy Mees moved into unchartered territory. Portraits consist of film- and video recordings and photographs in wide-ranging formats, from contact sheets and ‘regular’ family photos in black & white and color, to large-size prints of studio quality. The execution in consciously un-artistic, following the principle of anonymity or the consciously amateurish-looking photographs of conceptual photography. The video and films are direct registrations too, made without much in the way of editing and technical understanding.

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