‘Dragging’ Liveness in the Video Art of The Kingpins

Diana Smith


Two bikers with flowing grey locks and leather-clad suits emerge from the darkness mouthing the words to a succession of excessively loud tracks. Their bearded dancing girls adorned in sequins and sparkles soon appear and begin thrusting their hips back and forward to the pulsating beat of the purple, flashing lights. These opening moments of The Kingpins’ multi screen video installation, Rhapsody Happens (2005) first screened at Artspace in 2005 (14 April-7 May) prompted the central questions in this essay regarding the imbricated relationship between live and mediatised performance. The experience of viewing these performances was reminiscent of watching a live music concert and yet simultaneously evocative of the type of performances evident in music video clips. The two bikers, framed by their individual screens, appeared like the lead singers of a perverse rock band with their two back up dancers writhing around in between them. The three life-size screens positioned against the back wall of the gallery were suggestive of a theatrical stage space in which the audience were able to move back and forth between the screens weaving their own networks of response.


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