The Real McCoys


Jennifer and Kevin McCoy are a married couple of New York-based artists whose collaborative work conveys a love of film and televised narratives. Their early projects embodied database aesthetics as they chopped shows like 8 is Enough, Kung Fu, and Starsky and Hutch into short clips, often inviting viewers to rearrange them according to what we'd now call metadata. For instance, one could choose from a bank of DVDs in their Every Shot, Every Episode to watch every occurrence of the color blue, or of extreme close-ups. More recent works have entailed building elaborate miniature film sets, complete with working cameras, to shoot microfilms. In the case of High Seas, the set is a sort of kinetic sculpture in its own right, mimicking its subject as it moves around to create shots of the famed Titanic loosing its footing on the ocean. The role of filmic media in mythologizing the ill-fated boat is of course implicit in the installation. While these projects have always been infused with a sense of subjectivity, as the artists perform their fandom through their selective decisions, lately their work has incorporated more explicitly autobiographical elements. Their piece, Our Second Date, for instance, is a miniature movie set which features the artists watching the film from their second date, Weekend, reenacted through a mobile sculpture and video streamed live to a tiny screen. The choice to position themselves as spectators within their own reality, and moreover to confess that their romance budded around screen pleasure opens up a number of interpretations of their ongoing work and paves the way to their newest project, which opens November 22nd at Postmasters Gallery. In I'll Replace You, the artists again place themselves at center stage, without stepping in front of the camera. Instead, a series of different actors (some of whom are quite miscast) play them in enacting a "day in the life" of the artists. Of course, this day is unfathomably long in that it includes every type of activity in which the artists, parents, lovers, and professors might possibly engage on a given day, thus exploring the roles and experiences that constitute our identities. Nonetheless, the fake McCoys manage to do it all, with the actors changing shift throughout the day, while engaging with the artists' real children, students, friends, and colleagues. The resultant video installation is accompanied by a series of photo portraits of the artists in which passersby and friends stand in for one or another member of the couple (raising questions about the deeper psychic or cosmic nature of compatibility and the implausibility of replacement) and a series of "artist talks" in which actors from outside of the art world discuss work by famous artists as if it was their own. Once again returning to the database form, the latter piece promises to shed light on the genre conventions of art-related discourse and critique with clips that are both humorous and poetic. Leave it to the McCoys to sketch out the formal boundaries of a practice and then show us how fun and beautiful it can be to color within those lines! - Marisa Olson

Image: Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, I'll Replace You, 2008 (Photo courtesy of Postmasters Gallery)