Alex Da Corte, TRUƎ LIFƎ, 2013
In TRUƎ LIFƎ, the role identity plays in culture, consumerism and the political landscape is held up for scrutiny in a characteristically complex way. Issues of representation, and whom exactly that representation serves, are carefully interrogated as we see culture, politics and consumerism collide in this short confrontational video. Da Corte has said of his own work that it frequently has to do with understanding the ‘skin’ of something – pulling it away, revealing what’s beneath, adding to it, adorning new skins, or disguising oneself. In this video, the artist appears as a convincing lookalike of Eminem, the white musician who found huge success within the historically and predominantly black culture of rap music. In the video, Da Corte as Eminem sits directly opposite the camera and proceeds to fill a bowl with Cinnamon Life cereal. He adds milk and begins to eat as if no one is watching. The mannerisms and gaze of the artist, who rarely takes his eyes off of the camera, mirror those of someone watching television. He is eating and yet his attention is not on the meal but on what is in front of him. This has the curious effect of placing us, the viewer, inside the screen and not inside the camera as is usual.
This is a cinematic reversal, perhaps a shift in our identity that as a result engenders a shift in our gaze, our agency in the situation and our power. We are, in fact, now being watched. Da Corte has said ‘I kept noticing packaging of Cinnamon Life cereal with African-American people on it, and regular Life had white families (…), I continued to think about absorbing a culture that you’re not familiar with’. The work, in its conflation of consumer identity (where communities are essentialized as a market) and cultural identity (that can perhaps offer a problematic space to transcend such characterization), shows us how, in both instances, the viewer or consumer is quietly complicit. This video exposes the mechanics of such a situation in a powerful yet simple way.
|Medium||single-channel digital video|
|Duration||4 minutes 3 seconds|