Billboards by Aleksandar Kujučev
For some years now,
I'm supporting myself, my art and now my family, by doing commercial photography
for the advertising industry.
As a photographer, I feel that I'm "living
a lie". I'm really frustrated with that.
Modern obsession with eternal youth and good looks is exploited and brought
to extreme in advertising. In some recent studies, youth, sex and good
looks are the most important of eight magic ingredients that are in the
essence of successful advertising. We are bombarded on a daily basis with
commercials for magic Q10 anti ageing crèmes, no dandruff / high volume
shampoos, lipstick that lasts ten hours, teeth whitening chewing gums
and tooth pastes, electric belts that will make you slim again... and
Sometime in the not too distant future, the beauty and health industry
might benefit more from genetic researches... If scientists figure out
how does degradation of genes that causes ageing work, humans could live
and stay young forever. There are also some speculations how that could
affect mental development - if you live, let's say, six or seven hundred
years, you would take responsibilities in your life much later... you
get out of puberty being 150, getting married at 300...
Being in the advertising business, I wanted to do a fake campaign for
the (fake) ultimate product that will make you young and fit forever.
I decided to combine extreme youth - babies, with extreme physical fitness
- body builders!
I persuaded local billboard company to sponsor me by giving me the billboards
and I went into production which was identical to my other commercial
productions - from photo shoot to Adobe Photoshop, and then to print.
The idea was not to "take the art to the streets" as in many other billboard
art projects I've seen. I wanted to mimic real billboard campaign and
to confuse people on the streets. It was a success: some pointed at billboards
laughing, some looked away in disgust, but nobody was indifferent and
this is by itself a sign of successful ad campaign... I had billboards
both on the Belgrade streets and in the Belgrade Cultural Center gallery.
SEND IN THE CLONES
(text from the catalogue)
We all need to
question the latest headlines about human cloning.
Dr. Paul Shields and Dr. Ian Wilmut, in a letter to Nature, reported
that Dolly has slightly stunted telomeres. Telomeres are DNA strands
at each end of a cell's DNA that become shorter with each cell division.
There has been speculation that telomeres are a sort of clock that tells
cells it's time to stop dividing and die, but reality has not proven
to be so simple. The researchers reported that Dolly's telomeres were
20 percent shorter than those of sheep who are not clones.
First, all the reasons the "telomere finding" is not so bad:
from the text "Analysis of telomere lengths in cloned sheep"
NATURE, May 27, 1999:316-317
Dream of constant
reproduction, of unending, perfect body, eternal youth in which there
are no radical breaks, empty spaces, interruptions or growing pains.
In a word - Dream of eternal Wholeness. This is one of the faces of
the primal human fantasy. We can not but to recall the myth of Anchises,
Aeneis' father and Venus' lover for whom later has negotiated with gods
secret of life without end. But Olympians, being jealous and fickle
lot, found a way to harm him. You see, Anchises possessed life without
end, he continued living no matter what but he also continued to deteriorate,
to age. In the end he simply faded away, like too little butter spread
over too much bread.
that is why our encounter with these images - heads of the cute, cherubic,
pre-school children grafted on massive, oiled, material, healthy bodies
of professional athletes - represent this phantasm at its purest. These
bodies stand for the impossibility, an successful Anchises. Perfect
body coupled with eternal youth. These bodies, these organisms, appear
almost too natural instead to invoke feeling of chimera. Smooth skin,
chubby cheeks & round, well-formed muscles coated in fine fat fit
together like pieces of long-lost puzzle, blending perfectly, hiding
all traces of stitches or scars that would reveal some internal antagonism
of these images. That seamlessness, conjures dread more intense than
any evoked by grimaces of Boris Karloff. That lack, lack of antagonism,
also reveals to us these images as illusory since Real is by definition
What does it hold for us? That maybe what today appears as insurmountable
obstacle, constitutive impossibility of cloning opens space for full
articulation of human potential, Which is one inherently of lack and
limitation. Although it now seems that all clones, even though possessing
potentially beneficial or superior to "ordinary human" genetic
modifications [stronger body, higher IQ, etc], would also have very
limited expiry date. Just like replicants in Ridley Scott's "Blade
Runner". Maybe that limit, which we now feel is inbuilt in the
cloning process is also that thing stands for the ultimate horizon of
humanity. The fact that we all have inbuilt expiry date, is what is
constitutive part of our state. But to reach that horizon, that understanding,
we have first to traverse realm of baby-builders. There we will probably
find Kierkegaard waiting for us because fear of death is minor when
confronted with the fear of eternity.