Kent Gallery is pleased to present MAKE DOWN, a new video installation by Dennis Adams.
The MAKE DOWN video consists of a single, fixed shot that lasts thirty-four minutes: a close-up of the artist looking at himself in a mirror as he carefully removes a thick layer of make-up from his face, hair, and torso. The make-up is a drab olive color suggestive of military camouflage. Each of the pieces of paper that he uses to wipe off the make-up is printed with one of a linear sequence of ninety-six film stills. The installation is completed by a vitrine containing these make-up-covered stills, the residue of the artist’s action.
The sequence of stills depicts a shot from Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers that shows a young Algerian woman removing her veil as she prepares to transform herself into a cosmopolitan French beauty. Once disguised, she will pass undetected through a military checkpoint and plant a bomb in the French quarter of Algiers. Released in 1965 and initially banned in France, The Battle of Algiers has long been a cinematic primer of guerilla tactics, avant-garde political action, and feminist practice. Since 9/11 the film has become an essential case-study for both Islamic terrorists and Western security forces.
MAKE DOWN addresses the complexity of layers of representation contained in this one cinematic fragment from The Battle of Algiers, particularly in the context of the ongoing transformations of the historical conflict between Islamic and Western cultures. Instead of presuming to unravel these meanings, Adams chooses instead to locate himself between the frames of the image in a reverse reenactment of the process of disguise.