Are you ready for the next art star? Even if it happens to be Lindsay Lohan?
Thanks to the painter Richard Phillips, pop cultureâ€™s current tragic heroine is making a cogent leap from the tabloids to the art world. The vehicle for her transformation is â€śLindsay Lohan,â€ť a 90-second ad for her more sober self that Phillips directed. It debuts next week inÂ â€śCommercial Break,â€ťÂ an upstart program of artistsâ€™ videos put together by Neville Wakefield for the opening festivities of the 54thÂ Venice Biennale.
With the â€śLohanâ€ť video, shot last month in Malibu, Calif., by the surf-king filmmaker Taylor Steele (and exclusively previewing here), Phillips is also banking on a new direction. Last we looked, he was strictly a painter, albeit one with a certain fixation on the power of media gods and goddesses to distract us from the people they really are.
â€śIâ€™ve never made a film, not even on an iPhone,â€ť Phillips said (by iPhone) from an exhibition hall near Zurich, where he was hanging â€śPainting and Misappropriation,â€ť a show he first organized last year for theÂ Swiss InstituteÂ in New York. â€śIn some ways the video relates to my art, but itâ€™s also a way to think about a new kind of portraiture.â€ť
In â€śLindsay Lohan,â€ť the beleaguered beauty is captured mostly in close-up, and in attitudes that Phillips appropriated from two 1960s movie classics, Jean-Luc Godardâ€™s â€śContemptâ€ť and Ingmar Bergmanâ€™s â€śPersona,â€ť starring Brigitte Bardot and Liv Ullmann, respectively. The skimpily clad Lohan stands in for each, appearing anguished, introspective, seductive, sleepy, hurt, querulous, innocent and always alone. The links Phillips makes between her and the roles that Bardot and Ullmann play in the films may be subtle, but they are distinct.
â€śWhat fascinates me about Lindsay are not her problems but the way she embodies an eminence on the level of a Bardot or an Ullmann,â€ť Phillips said. â€śSheâ€™s a combination of the fantastic and the real, which is what makes her so magnetic. She can also bring forward an existential presence that speaks to the isolated self.â€ť
Both â€śPersonaâ€ť and â€śContempt,â€ť he pointed out, examine those issues, and his brief psychological portrait of Lohan attempts to unite the irreconcilable differences in her divided personality.
The video repudiates the subtext ofÂ â€śMost Wanted,â€ť Phillipsâ€™s show at the White Cube Gallery in London earlier this year. It included outsize portraits of famous faces belonging to Leonardo DiCaprio, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Dakota Fanning and the like, all based on red-carpet or step-and-repeat fashion photos â€“ â€śspokesperson pictures,â€ť as Phillips calls them.
This time out, he wanted to get beyond a public image widely exploited, or ridiculed, in the media, and past the celebrity endorsements and luxury-goods sponsorship that, he says, are what herald serious art projects today.
The 80 videos that constitute â€śCommercial Breakâ€ť do something of the same. Presented by Dasha Zhukovaâ€™sÂ Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, and sponsored by Post magazine for an iPad application, they will play on an unavoidable Jumbotron floating the length of the Grand Canal in Venice. Intended as a provocation to the art trade, each uses commercial means to speak for art in a city where all forms of public advertising are forbidden.
â€śLindsay Lohanâ€ť certainly has the look of a commercial, though no one watching it is likely to have a clue what itâ€™s promoting â€” other than Lohanâ€™s determination to stay in the game. â€śI never met her before the shoot,â€ť Phillips said. â€śWe only texted. But she showed up on time and worked an entire day, and hit every take on the money.â€ť
Richard Phillipsâ€™s â€śLindsay Lohanâ€ť premieres next Wednesday in â€śCommercial Breaks,â€ť and plays through June 5 along the Grand Canal in Venice.
A Richard Phillips Film
Directed by: Richard Phillips and Taylor Steele; Director of Photography: Todd Heater; Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick; Creative Director: Dominic Sidhu; Art Director: Kyra Griffin; Editor: Haines Hall; Color mastering: Pascal Dangin for Boxmotion.
Source: New York Times