A social club for German-Americans in the declining city of Troy, New York, prepares to fold from financial pressures. Club members careen from the soothing embrace of nostalgia by night to the messy business of dissolution by day. Theirs is a Germanity frozen in time that is no longer desired by their own children, nor even by the Germans who never left.
Twice a month, abandoned suitcases are auctioned off in the state of Baden-Wuerttemburg. Who buys this luggage - these lost identities - and are they lured by the potential of treasures undreamt of, hidden among dirty underwear and wrinkled t-shirts, or is the act of simply spending money its own allure?
A group of people from the various suburbs of Stuttgart share a feeling that some essential joy is missing from their lives. They gather regularly to laugh, an action that begins consciously, artificially, but which, for however brief a time, eventually becomes authentic. Their tension is eased by a sense of belonging and the emotional quietude left by catharsis. It is an attempt to reclaim a sense of self they believe lost.
These tableaux play out against the background of 21st century consumer capitalism, its winners and losers, the disintegration of the old social structures that once gave meaning to our lives even as they constrained us. Now that we have the freedom to move away and remake ourselves according the personas we choose, not those chosen for us, have we also lost a sense of place? At stake is the notion of selfhood. We love freedom, but do we have too much choice? The contemporary condition demands we wade through an infinite sea of information and choice and what effect does this have on our being?
How do we live an authentic life when tradition no longer frames our experiences? In this deracinated present, we lurch to fill the void left behind by the loss of sociality - the web of relationships, norms and history that is so much bigger than culture. We attach ourselves to things that we want to feel are genuine. We want to be true, dedicated, committed. We want conviction. We want to stand for something solid and believe. We spin into rituals of cleansing, of consumption, or of nostalgia in an effort to uncover depth.
A Proper Hidden Frenzy suggests that our reality has become dress-up. We mimic characters in our own dramas, aware that we are always, underneath it all, frustrated by our recognition of the role we play in manufacturing them. Each group puts on an external front for the camera of performativity and strength, as the social world requires, but just below the surface lies a thinly veiled vulnerability, a slight freneticism bubbles from this uncertainty. This work draws on our endless triangle of experience: seek/consume, lack/loss, remake/reinvent.
A Proper Hidden Frenzy: The Closing of Germania Hall, 2015
A Proper Hidden Frenzy: Lost Luggage Auction, 2015
A Proper Hidden Frenzy: Laugh Yoga, 2015