Billboards Kortrijk 04:
Performance #4 (Los Angeles)
07/07 — 07/10/2023
The work of Max Pinckers (°1988, Brussels) reflects on the credibility of the image and the inability of documentary photography to claim a place in a changing world, in which the authority of the photograph as an independent document has disappeared in the proliferation of digital images, ‘fake news’ and Photoshop. As an artist, Pinckers is therefore part of a new generation of documentary photographers who consciously use – previously considered taboo – means such as theatrical staging, image manipulation and conscious recontextualisation.
Max Pinckers’ practice develops in series: images that he brings together in exhibitions and self-published artist books. The series from which the image of this Billboard Series comes is called Margins of Excess (2018). Starting from collective dreams and desires nurtured and shaped by the style figures of mass media, the series questions how people shape their own identities. For this series, Pinckers travelled across the United States to visit a number of characters and stories that became briefly known in the mainstream media when their “subjective reality” clashed with the truth. However, Pinckers stresses that none of the people in the stories he highlights knowingly told lies to fool anyone or pursue personal gain. These characters simply experience reality differently; they create their own world with their own truth, as it were.
These stories are indicative of the new, post-truth era we live in. For a few years now, the term post-truth has been used to describe a reality in which objective facts have less influence on the formation of public opinion than emotions and personal beliefs. It is the world in which Donald Trump became the US president with his alternative facts, in which climate change is still denied and in which the British chose to leave the EU based on misinformation.
Performance #4 (Los Angeles) was taken on the day of Donald Trump’s election victory. The crying man is an actor, but the image is barely distinguishable from the sincere, similar and desperate scenes that took place across the country that day. Pinckers deliberately plays with the stereotypical images used by the media to depict mass mourning: burning candles, flowers and weeping people. At the same time, the image clearly plays with the conventions of advertising photography. The lighting, composition and colours used by Pinckers to create the picture allow a totally different reading of the photo – as if it were part of a major advertising campaign for perfume or men’s clothes. This is reinforced by the fact that the image is shown here on a giant advertising billboard.
All images courtesy of the artist
Installation photography: Joselito Verschaeve
Billboards Kortrijk is a long-term art project in public space at Budabrug, Kortrijk. The billboards are selected from Billboard Series’ archive and are presented here within a new narrative. The first five presentations in Kortrijk focus on the artist portrait. Billboards Kortrijk wants to build a sustainable and productive dialogue with the surrounding neighbourhood and urban landscape, and introduce a broad audience to different visual languages and ways of looking at the world.
Billboards Kortrijk is a project of artlead, together with Be-Part Center for Conteporary Art and 019. Billboards Kortrijk is curated by Thomas Caron and takes place within a scenography by architect Olivier Goethals.