AVA reviewer Brian Burks takes on the latest Absurdist endeavours from theater and video art troupe, COLLAPSE.
“Bear Killin’,” the short video piece directed by video artist Kelly Broich, featuring performance artist Anne McDonald, is one of the strangest clown videos I’ve seen this month. The film shows a female clown knifing and then ripping apart a stuffed Winnie the Poo holding a heart that says “I Love You.” It is tempting to apply meaning to this film, even if no real meaning exists. The symbolic imagery seems to suggest a sort of deconstruction of childhood motifs common to Western culture.
The stuffed toy bear, a source of bedtime comfort to so many children is dismembered by a clown, of all things, the traditional source of entertainment at birthday parties, fairs and circuses. This revolting clown then proceeds to try on Winnie the Poo’s head. After trying on the freshly butchered skin, we hit our dramatic finale when the heartless clown tears open Winnie’s heart.
The video is fascinating and disturbing, unnerving and thrilling; it is painful, yes, yet it can also be therapeutic if embraced with open legs.
Thankfully this video was short because it aggravates my coulrophobia, but a perverted, courageous side of me wanted to overcome my fear of this multicolored monster so I proceeded to watch the homicidal clown kill Winnie the Poo over and over, again and again and again.
Just look at this thing. Notice the mismatched gloves? One for killin’ and one for fashion? Who does it think it is?
The Collapse clowns don’t stop here…
Meet Boner Salad—part of Kollapse for Kidz.
“I’m your friend!”
This video is disturbing with the acidy pedophiliac basement feel, but easier to digest thematically… Boner Salad is revealing and demystifying the bitter truth of the world, and he’s doing it to our children: he’s waking them up to the realities they certainly won’t understand as toddlers and will probably never understand as adults.
”Life is meaningless, there is no God, and babies are bad,” says Boner Salad in a delightfully sardonic voice. Boner’s message to the “kidz,” and the moral of this video piece seems to be that the more babies we create the faster we eat the earth. We must accept the simple truth that life is ultimately meaningless, God’s laws are nothing short of arbitrary dogma, and His word amounts to nothing more than fairy tales with which we abuse our children. It is time to throw off the cultural and religious blinders that are directing us toward species suicide.
But maybe not. Maybe Boner Salad is just a dickhead who likes to scare little kids.
I fired off Facebook questions to both Broich and McDonald for more clarity as to the motives and inspirations behind these pieces. This is what I received in return:
“Many in the Collapse cult are undergoing a metamorphosis,” said McDonald. “These are no longer costumes. Clowns are who we are becoming, who we want to be, clowns are who we really are… inside.”
Broich sent back a clown painting made as a child with a simple “artistic statement”: “It is a 1989 self-portrait of my true inner-clown.”
From the above painting we can see that Broich’s genius was obvious even as a child, though nobody of significance noticed in time to save him from himself.
Brian Burks teaches ancient Esperanto at Carrington College and is a freelance art critic.