Friday, 25 October 2013, 24:00 | midnight

#48: Candice Breitz

Central to the multi-channel video installations for which Breitz is best known, is the question of how an individual becomes him- or herself in relation to a larger community, be it the immediate community that one encounters in family, or the real and imagined communities that are increasingly forged into being via the undeniable influence of mainstream media such as television, cinema and popular music. Multi-channel works made by Breitz over the last decade have explored and unpicked processes of identification and emulation as these manifest themselves within the relationship between the self and intimate others, but also processes that have come to structure relationships within the realm of consumer culture. At the heart of Breitz’s work, lies an interest in the somewhat mysterious ways in which the subject finds his or her way into selfhood. Her many obsessive returns to the genre of portraiture in recent years suggest both the impossibility of finitely coming to understand how it is that we become who we are, and the necessity to nevertheless keep on trying.

Candice Breitz presents footage from a selection of her multichannel video installations especially edited for the cinema:

Treatment2013, German premiere
Commissioned by the Toronto International Film Festival 2013, this new dual-channel installation brings an original soundtrack to three key scenes from The Brood (1979), a film that David Cronenberg has often described as his most autobiographical. Each of the scenes—now severed from the plot of the original film—invites us to voyeuristically observe a therapeutic exchange between maverick psychotherapist Dr Hal Raglan and one of his patients. Breitz riffs on Cronenberg’s exploration of the self-perpetuating psychological horror that lies potential in family relationships: the artist, her parents and her therapist lend their voices to the three scenes to create the new soundtrack.

The Character, 2011
Fifteen young Indian film enthusiasts were each asked to watch a Bollywood movie prominently featuring a child character. During the shoot that followed, each child was asked to verbally portray the child character in the movie that s/he had watched, and to describe the role and plight of that character within the movie’s narrative. As they evoke fifteen fictional children from well-known Bollywood movies, the fifteen children portrayed in The Character offer a range of insights into the role played by ‘the child’ (as character and spectator) in mainstream Indian cinema. It becomes apparent that their own values, views of the world and attitudes to life are at times closely related to those celebrated on screen. The edit avoids specific reference to particular movies or particular characters, instead weaving the fifteen interviews into a composite portrait of ‘the child’ within the Bollywood imaginary.

Her, 1978-2008
Him + Her, two seven-channel video installations by Candice Breitz, each stage the virtual encounter of an individual with a crowd of his or her other selves. Picking up where Breitz’s earlier installations Mother + Father left off, Him + Her use existing footage from Hollywood films to compose dense psychological vignettes. Within the imaginary space of Her (1978-2008), 28 Meryl Streeps, extracted out of films made by the actress over a period of 30 years, meet to discuss their needs, fears and desires. In engaging a series of disparate voices from the same mind, Breitz creates a kaleidoscopic, insightful and witty set of interactions between the multiple Jacks and many Meryls, interactions that draw to the surface a series of Hollywood-perpetuated clichés about psychology and gendered identity.


Candice Breitz (b. 1972 in Johannesburg, South Africa) 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).

Candice Breitz’s web site: