POST BY ANNE JOHNSON
“Brandon Herman: Sex Machine: 90’s Madonna Video Style” Photo by Robyn Von Swank
So what was the deal behind photographer Brendan Herman's performance “L.A. Pig”, the press release for which, I found so confusing last week? In short, the performance on Saturday night was a lot more like this photo than the ones I posted in my first write up.
With Herman in front of the camera for once, others videotaped while two half-naked boys pretended to beat the hell out of the artist. Herman and the boys danced with a projection of the Laker girls' half-time show behind them. The oversexed display of violence and sexy dance sequence occurred in a space surrounded by Herman's erotic photographs. Sexual images confronted the audience from all angles.
Before the performance began, curator Justin Gilanyi read from the press release that began all this confusion in the first place. I guess the last paragraphs finally makes sense:
Knowing him changes the way I look at his photography and videos. I see his signature combination of self-loathing and narcissism everywhere in it now. That’s what all the role-playing is. Fear. Indecision. Being the center of attention and then wanting to run away. Classic manic-depressive behavior. I don’t trust Brandon Herman. But I’m fascinated by him. Just like the dark Hollywood history he obsesses over. And somehow in personifying that combination of being beautiful and untrustworthy, he himself has become that alluring contradiction. Glossy and Gritty. I don’t know if it’s real but I want it to be. But it’s too beautiful so I can’t trust it. Beautifully. Sadly. Beautifully. Untrustworthy.
After that confusing introduction, the piece offered no revelations. I wanted to see something new from Herman, but the performance played out like one of his photo shoots. The only difference was that this time Herman became the half-naked subject of his work instead of someone else.