Candy's Camouflage

video: m.loizenbauer

The Imploding Portraits Inevitable-Series, inspired by the earlier film works of Andy Warhol, especially the use of the split-screen in Chelsea Girls, began with the performances Shiny, Shiny... and False Colored Eyes and changes shape with Candy’s Camouflage. Projections of the feminine – or what one may take for it – are called up; deceptive stereotypes and fragile clichés are put to endurance tests.

In Candy’s Camouflage the colourful frenzy of the previous pieces dissolves into the black and white of Film Noir. What remains are the tools of camouflage and deception, which provide the possibility to create a new self again and again. Constant change, here, is the fundamental principle, mutation’s the game. 

In all the performances, the handheld cameras and spotlights are manipulated by the performers live on stage, creating a live image on screen.


Synthetic fiber, drapery.

Notes on Candy’s Camouflage.

Candy’s Camouflage is based on the practice of autocorpography, a self-embodiment that is as much self-surveying and -definition as it is self-publication. The dark shadows of the real bodies mix with the decolourised, silver tinted images cast onto the background wall. A dark eroticism is at play in this piece, a form of libidinal autonomy: Three human bodies, bathed in cool light, relating themselves to one another. To grasp yourself always also means to draw up a portrait of yourself. The Imploding Portraits Inevitable-Series, begun with Liquid Loft’s productions Shiny, Shiny… and False Colored Eyes, changes its shape with Candy’s Camouflage. It provides projections of the feminine, subjecting stereotypes and brittle clichés to a series of stress tests. Above all, it explores surfaces: the outer layer of people, the skin, as well as the fabrics one can use to cover, to cloak it.

Now, surfaces don’t have the best reputation. At least Pop Art, and before that, only Oscar Wilde, rehabilitated dealing with outer appearance, for a few years. But since then, those who view inner profundity as strictly separated from the outer shell have, again, regained the upper hand. Candy’s Camouflage can be seen as a statement against the division of surface and substance. The secure knowledge, that only via a precise analysis of the outside we can establish the necessary contact with the dreams, visions and desires of people, carries this evening.

Film Noir is a logical point of reference here; at times the figures are almost swallowed by darkness before they - driven by a mysterious inner energy - start to twitch spookily, squirming in front of and below the camera. Everyone’s lost within themselves: as if they weren’t aware that they are watched and used, that they are about to become signs, signals. Hands tugging on clothes, laying bare body parts: Fingers feeling across written-upon skin, faces being studies in extreme close-ups, three artificial creatures think and move along to the flow of the fragments of music, to the strange mono- and dialogues they are forced to follow into unknown existences. Individuals turn into prototypes, which morph into clusters of humans, into intertwined and mixed up fantasy creatures. Matters build up from smoldering phases of silence and slow-motion matters build up, in ever stronger concussions, ever closer to an unexplained psycho-physical excess.

Like all pieces by Liquid Loft, this one is very musical in its nature – not only in the expansive field of its sonar web, ranging between ambient and noise, sinister drones and melancholic melodies, but also in respects of language, dance and video-styles. The splinters of language, song and noise are mostly of uncertain provenance, and yet they merge associatively, retracing “noir”-atmospheres.

The cameras and spotlights remain flexible, are handled by the actors, are tilted, panned, set in direction and readjusted – or there are zoom-ins on the details of the images, on displays of oneself. In the visual montage, in blends and double exposures the movements are doubled or tripled, translated into complicated, kaleidoscopically multiplied views. The interplay of revelation and concealment is also based on a dramaturgy of layered clothing, changing or discarding dresses; wrapping each other in again. A constant struggle is orchestrated here: a wrestling with words, with poses and gestures, overviews and effigies. There’s failure and swearing, getting entangled (even literally in one’s clothes), running on the spot. A subtle grotesque in which silver synthetic fiber and drapery play essential supporting roles, takes shape. One is reminded of the amateurish glamor of Kenneth Angers’ short, although much more colorful celebration of starlet’s wardrobes: “Puce Moment” – not the least because of the referential use of the quoted songs in the reverb drenched, shadow cushioned music of a bygone era, which seems to rise from the subconscious like distant memories.

The dense mesh of light and shadow, of figures, costumes, sounds, voices and movements becomes differentiated in the projections, where rooms become deformed and bodies assembled the wrong way. The reciprocal effect of the plasticity of the three dimensional happening on stage and its transformation onto the screen behind the actors is crucial. First and last, Candy’s Camouflage is, after all, a drama of gaze and voyeurism, an ambiguous meditation in which comedy lies close to despair and popular sayings (Wir Wiener Waschweiber würden weisse Wäsche waschen – We, Viennese laundry women, would be washing white laundry) is put to feminist reflection.

One of Warhol’s divas, Candy Darling, serves as the namesake of this piece: This tragic, gone-to-soon searcher of her own identity, a free radical of female emancipation is the perfect figurehead for this undertaking, which so intensely deals with distortions and inscriptions, with mauled skin; in short: the strained woman. And there’s Lucinda Williams analyzing the spirit of prostitution from the inside: „Come to my house of earth / if you would like for me to gather old time feelings back / Come here to my house of good, rich earth / if you would like for me to teach your wife a thing or two...“

In Candy's Camouflage, relishing in soul searching, blueprints of euphoria, longing, anger and madness set against each other, juggling with statuesque images of women that range from trash-goddess to Muslima to oriental queen.

The performers feel their ways jumping across the epochs, from the mythological Victim-Perpetrators of the tragedies of Antiquity to the murderous strategists of Film Noir, and from Warhol’s bored Chelsea Girls to Punk and Indie Rock’s Riot Grrrls. Men remain absent, they are not needed here, the environment belongs to the women – the femme fatales and the childlike strange, the dreamily raptured and the dramatically unbound. 

Text: Stefan Grissemann 
Translation: Oliver Stummer