Artist Marie Vic has created a fake production company, Whalecum Pictures, as the centerpiece of her latest project. Whalecum Pictures is a video installation hosted by Red Bull Studios, and features reenactments of iconic scenes from famous movies, but with objects branded with the studio’s corporate logo garishly inserted into them. From cigarettes to shovels, these branded objects are then displayed in the exhibit and offered for sale in The Gift Shop. Whalecum Pictures’ seven films will be on display starting Wednesday the 17th. We chat with Marie about her re-appropriation of cult scenes from iconic movies.
What specifically inspired you to create these short films?
I’m not sure what in particular inspired Whalecum Pictures but I wanted to do a work that investigates the interstice of art and commerce. To address that subject, I thought the movie industry would be an appropriate metaphor. So I created a fake film production company, Whalecum Pictures, and re-imagined cult scenes from iconic movies. In each of these scenes, there’s an object that’s heavily branded by the fictional studio that develops the movies. The object is exhibited aside each video in the gallery space, challenging the notion of value within a market place.
What made you choose the objects you did, such as cigarettes and shovels?
I wanted the Whalecum Pictures items to be as eclectic as possible, and absurdist. Some of the objects are updated versions of their original cinematic form: Anna Karina’s cigarette in “Vivre Sa Vie” became a vapor cigarette. Marlon Brando’s T-shirt, which at the time was considered an undergarment, became a thong bodysuit. Other objects were grotesquely added to the films, they are intruders: like the spa slippers in “Full Metal Jacket,” or the stress ball in “La Haine.” Agrado’s necklace in “Todo Sobre Mi Madre,” or Ray’s shovel in “Field of Dreams” have simply been branded.
“I wanted to do a work that investigates the interstice of art and commerce.”
How did you decide which movie scenes to use?
I focused on cult films within a variety of genres and selected scenes that I thought were powerful, either for their content or their visual aspect. For instance, I thought it was interesting to put in parallel Nana’s line on freedom (“I think we’re always responsible for our actions. We’re free.”) and Agrado’s monologue depicting the constructedness of herself.
What sort of aesthetic are you trying to achieve with the different scenes?
When shooting the different scenes, I tried to remain aesthetically as faithful as possible to the original films. As far as the objects were concerned, I wanted them to mimic the promotional style often employed by media conglomerates and other companies.
By selling these objects in a gift shop, are you worried about becoming what you are satirizing?
I wouldn’t call Whalecum Pictures a satire. The project points to a vicious circle of money through arts patronage and consumerism, and it exists playfully within it. The fictional brand is philanthropically bestown upon the arts, and the arts bestowed upon the brand, raising value in the marketplace, literally, in the Gift Shop. In jest, Whalecum Pictures comes full circle.