Even A Stopped Clock Is Right Twice A Day, 2008. 2’34” / After the Empire, 2008. 13’50” / Je suis une bombe, 2006. 6’12” / Endless Ends, 2009. 6’47”
Kunsthaus Zürich, Suiza. www.kunsthaus.ch
Renowned Swiss artist Elodie Pong presents various videos where the irony on the contemporary world becomes evident. Retrieving popular icons and symbols, he builds absurd, comic and at the same time regrettable worlds. Mirjam Varadinis accurately describes the point of view of the artist presented by Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland:
Certain moments and figures in the history of humanity lie deeply anchored in our collective memory. We all know them and they consciously or unconsciously form us. The artist Elodie Pong (born in the USA, living in Switzerland) has selected such icons from contemporary history and Pop-Culture for her video piece, After the Empire (2008). There she stages encounters among them and has them recite elements of famous speeches and statements in monologues and dialogues. Karl Marx meets Marilyn Monroe, Elvis meets a Japanese version of Minnie Mouse and Martin Luther King meets Frieda, a woman from rural Zurich – the latter inspired by Pong’s grandmother. Fusing personal and collective history, After the Empireexplores questions of identity in an era of copy-paste and post-modern appropriation culture. Who are we and what has made us what we are? Or: what or who do we pretend to be?
The issue of role-playing is also central to Pong’s earlier video Je suis une bombe (2006). There a figure in a panda bear costume performs an erotic pole dance. On removing the panda’s head, a woman appears and steps up to the camera to deliver her own praises of a complex image of woman, simultaneously strong and vulnerable, a potential powder keg. Like in many other works Pong subjects here female stereotypes to critical scrutiny and opens up a stage for the protagonist’s dreams and longings. The atmosphere has something very melancholic but is at the same time filled with playful irony. This skillful weave of complex political and philosophical questions with tongue-in-cheek insouciance is very characteristic of Pongs work and gives it its distinctive flavor.
The dialogues in Elodie Pongs videos are often a mix of quotations from history, film and pop, combined with the artist’s own texts – also in Even A Stopped Clock Is Right Twice A Day (2008). This video was realized shortly before the economic crisis in 2008, when the first signs of the imminent collapse were in the air. A group of stuffed birds debates about globalization and the state of the world economy by using text fragments coming from various sources. The quotes are assigned to the different characters in a manner that blurs the origin of the words.
Elodie Pong often also plays with references to cinema and iconic scenes of famous movies. Endless Ends (2009) on first sight seems to be a nostalgic anthology of classic film clips featuring "The End". This work's main focus, however, is directed towards the endless world of the stories' "negative space", extending itself before and after these conclusions. Each scene's final image carries some residual trace of the film that ran before, bearing its poetics, nostalgia, mystery or humour, provoking memories or just a feeling that one has missed something. In such, the end per se is seen as nothing final, but as a marker of possibilities.
(Boston, 1966) is a Swiss artist and filmmaker known for her subtle, analytic works, often built as cycles or in series, which focus on human relationships, cultural codes and their impact on contemporary society. As a university-trained sociologist and anthropologist, she often deals with social structures in her artistic work. The wide-ranging oeuvre of the video artist revolves around questions of identity and collective identity construction, intimacy and separation, self stylization and unstable communication situations in a pluralistic and individualized society. Until 2004, her projects, installations and video works mainly focused on immediate visualisation of sociological structures such as intimacy, friendship, issues of gender and communication. Her more recent films can be read as multi-layered analysis and deconstruction of these very themes, where the viewer becomes part of the constellation by being offered different readings according to which the works are brought together. Elodie Pong has received several awards and grants; her work is exhibited in group and solo exhibitions worldwide. She lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland.