Bad Beuys, Bad Beuys

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Bad Beuys Entertainment is an art collective that was founded in 1999 at Cergy-Pontoise in the Parisian suburbs. Their creative mission is summed up in their moniker: a hybrid of American showbiz-ness (aka Bad Boys Entertainment, a major U.S. hip-hop recording label) and the ideals of German artist Joseph Beuys, whose conception of social relationships as art has had enduring influence. Fittingly, their works operate between the slickness of commercial entertainment and the human or handmade. Take Champions (1999). Recently exhibited in New York by independent curator Hanne Mugaas, the mock music video, which possesses the beaten-up quality of a bootlegged VHS tape, features three boys in tracksuits dancing. Without a refrain or climax to abide by, their choreography progresses into a parody of itself with initial tough guy moves replaced by what looks like a combination of elementary school theater and voguing. Meanwhile, tracksuits begin to fly (via special effects) and the video, itself, drops audio for the entire last half only to amble back at the credit sequence. Long before the onset of video-sharing platforms, the three handcrafted what would be an amazing Youtube find: an amateur homage to the culture industry that winds up as a critique not only of media's power, but our own consumption of it. Another video, not available online, is SICTOM (2001), in which the group enacted a soap opera in an IKEA store, using the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom displays as ready-made backdrops. The group also makes sculptures, light installation, websites and more. Those with an appreciation of early net art should visit the website of Matthieu Clainchard, one of the founding members, for an intricate mash-up of browser windows that present bits and pieces of manifestos and artworks as well as links to peer projects and artists, such as French net artist and activist Jean Baptiste Bayle, creator of the hacked version of Myspace, Myownspace (2006), which, much like the network he is part of, critiques contemporary media while operating strategically within its confines. - Lauren Cornell



Image: Bad Beuys Entertainment, Champions, 1999