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This work revisits and displaces Steve McQueen’s work Dead Pan, 1997 which in turn —as if it were a game of mirrors— takes a scene from the Buster Keaton film Steamboat Bill, Jr., 1928. The central element in this chain of references is the fall of a façade of a house onto the body of the protagonist: Buster Keaton, Steve McQueen and Aukje Dekker. If comedy is what drives the situation in the Keaton film, McQueen opts to displace the emotion, remaining still and hieratic. We move from classic cinematographic language to video performance, and from Keaton’s clumsy escape to the sculpture-like impassivity of McQueen, which colours the scene with an oppressive tension. Aukje Dekker maintains the former Dead Pan‘s black and white look, absence of sound and short duration. However, this time, instead of an exterior where the construction appears as a naturalist element, we are in a vacant studio where a house is staged at the centre. The camera is fixed; the body and the face of the artist appear as solemn and inexpressive. The only true movement is the fall of the façade. Yet there exists a greater sensation of disturbance due to the frame changes. The action appears to repeat itself, insistently, but actually we are attending a dissection of the same scene from different angles, until it is completed in 360º. The façade falls on the body of the artist, who does not react. In the original, a strategically positioned Steve McQueen is never hit by the window frame. In Aukje’s version, she is hit, as a result of the displacement caused by the declared body-subject substitution: female, white, European.
Dead Pam Busted video was produced for the solo exhibition One for All, All for One. The show was focused on the tension between the individual and the community. In it, Aukje Dekker reflected on her role as an artist and on the sense of her work through collaborations with other artists. Authenticity and authorship, two of the pillars that support the contemporary art system, are questioned in this proposal, where the works exhibited can only be understood as the result of an exchange. A paradox emerges in Dead Pam Busted video as the consequence of a work process wherein the other artist doesn’t even participate. Then, she moves into the territory of appropriation, one of the foundations of the first moving image strategies in art.