Aukje Dekker

Born 1983, Rotterdam; lives and works in Amsterdam

Deadpan Busted, 2017

single-channel, HD video, black and white, no sound, 2:44 minutes, loop

courtesy of  the artist and HE.RO Gallery, Amsterdam


The artist is standing motionless in front of a wooden house whose façade keeps crashing onto her. The scene is a double reference: to Steve McQueen’s video piece Deadpan (1997) which is itself a reference-homage to Buster Keaton’s 1928 movie, Steamboat Bill, Jr. Aukje Dekker adds a gender link to the sequence leading from a silent movie to a video work, from Buster Keaton to Steve McQueen, from a white man to a black man. She filmed herself in a studio, against the background of another re-enactment of the house with the falling façade, parts of which fall and hit her. She turns the cinematic miracle into something more realistic, which she alludes to already in her title: a pun on Steve McQueen’s deadpan poker-face when the wall keeps collapsing around him and on Buster Keaton’s name which becomes a verb with a disastrous meaning: broken, smashed.

Shooting the scene from all directions also refers to Zidane, a 21st Century Portrait, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s 2006 joint work, documenting a football game starring Zinadine Zidane, Real Madrid’s midfielder, shot with 17 cameras. Dekker places herself as a further link in a chain of artists working in the junction between cinema and video, as well as in a chain of women artists who link performance with video and place themselves at the focus, among them Monica Bonvicini and Klara Lidén. Despite a history of several decades, it is still not obvious for a woman to turn a camera onto herself and experiment with a non-standard physical act, especially when she positions herself in a place reserved in the (cinematic and artistic) collective memory for men, for the heroes of cinema and art.



The artist would like to thank Marco Reekers, Arjen Ottema, Diederick de Man and Marija Danilovic. Special thanks to Camalot