For Nuit Blanche 2021, the Centre culturel suisse presents in the bookstore window two works by James Bantone Cuffin Season 01 - 05 (2020-21) and Wha Ha Happened Was… (2018). James Bantone’s work builds on an expansive archive of found footage from predominantly Instagram and TikTok, collected and archived by the artist. Through both photography as well as sculpture, Bantone reinterprets and recreates scenes and gestures from this vast collection, exploring the codes in verbal and body language, performativity and self-representation online. Like, in a moving image, two persons are filmed in studio setting while mutedly reenacting the gestures of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta‘s cast clearly codified as Black American women of wealth (Wha Ha Happened Was… , 2018). Text : Mohamed Almusibli & Deborah Joyce Holman
Cuffin Season 01 - 05
In Cuffin Season 01 - 05 (2020-1), Bantone invokes the barbershop, a typically heteronormative, masculine-coded site of gathering, communication, and care as the setting against which to reflect on mutual strategies of refusal and subversion. For the latter work, the artist produced five polyester cloaks; a true copy of what one might expect to be draped with when visiting a salon. The work’s title refers to “cuffing season,” a period during which single people actively seek out committed romantic and sexual relationships to ease the loneliness of the colder months. The pejorative (and potentially toxic) associations of the verb “to cuff” are reflected throughout the translucent, sunset-toned patterns decorating the cloaks: flashy, diamante encrusted wristwatches and other assorted jewellery; lustful men; the G-Star RAW logo; wandering hands. Olamiju Daniella Fajemisin
Wha Ha Happened Was ... (2018)
Wha Ha Happened Was… (2018) projects re-enactions of scenes from the highly produced reality television show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta across four HD 4K screens. Filmed against a blank, white backdrop with the sound removed, the viewers’ attention focuses on the choreography of the young, queer and male bodies where the narrative has been stripped away. Bantone manipulates source material that produces and enacts extreme binary modes of masculinity and femininity, under whose guise the characters fulfil clichés ascribed by society. Here, these well-worn narratives are appropriated and redeployed in ways that mimic consumption of mass media more generally; they are shot fast and are easy to consume.
text : Mohamed Almusibli