2014–2015 Kunsthalle wien Exhibition
The films were projected on separate screens together in one gallery space so that viewers can see across the multiple iterations at one time. Speakers were used for the sound elements, allowing the sounds of the films to bleed into one another, dissolving the boundaries between each film. With this kind of presentation Gareth Long reflects on the topic of amateurism, questions the relationship between originality and seriality and visibly stages the tension between repetition and difference.
The Kidnappers Foil films are also a series of historic documents that give an intriguing insight into the aesthetic, social and technical structure of the United States around the mid of the 20th century. For around four decades filmmaker Melton Barker travelled around the USA shooting the same film in town after town featuring local children acting: same script, same story, same title.
Kidnappers Foil tells the story of a young girl who gets kidnapped from her birthday party and is eventually rescued by a search party of local kids. After the rescue, the relieved townsfolk celebrate with a party in which the budding stars showcase their musical talents.
Melton Barker recognised that many people enjoyed seeing themselves, their children and their communities on film. Enlisting local movie theatres and newspapers to sponsor and promote the productions, Barker auditioned children and offered “acting lessons” to the most promising for a fee of a few dollars. He then assembled 50 to 75 would-be Shirley Temples and Jackie Coopers, aged three to twelve years old to act out Kidnappers Foil. A few weeks after filming, the town would screen the fifteen to twenty-minute picture to the delight of the local audience.
Multiple versions of early short films were sometimes made, due to one filmmaker effectively remaking another’s film or often as the result of competing film distribution companies making straight duplicates of films. As an example of
a filmmaker making multiple different versions of the same story, and as such obliterating the notion of a locatable ‘original’, Kidnappers Foil introduces a wholly other kind of copying.
The films were not remade as a formal or conceptual strategy, but largely as the result of a money making scheme on Barker’s part, playing on the participants’ desire for visibility.
The films also offer a glimpse into a particular moment in media history. New media culture is often characterised as demonstrating an increased amount of amateur production and participation. Today one can point a digital camera at oneself and be seen within seconds by millions on Youtube or Instagram, and the desire to constantly film and photograph oneself for public presentation is a salient preoccupation of our present time. By featuring an all-local and decidedly amateur cast, these films excavate a pre-history of this contemporary situation. The narcissistic impulse to see oneself on screen, and the possibility of being recognised and potentially becoming famous (even if only for 15 seconds rather than for 15 minutes), is central to Kidnappers Foil. The films gave children from rural communities that once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a film. And even if they weren’t ‘discovered’, there was a certain satisfaction about being seen in and by their own communities.
Gareth Long (b. 1979, Toronto) currently lives and works in London. He holds a BA in Visual Studies and Classical Civilizations from the University of Toronto and an MFA from Yale University.
Long has held solo exhibitions at Kate Werble Gallery, New York; Michael Benevento, Los Angeles; TORRI, Paris; SpazioA, Pistoia; Oakville Galleries, Leo Kamen Gallery, Toronto; the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge. His work has been shown at galleries and institutions such as MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver, CO; The Power Plant, Toronto, ON; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, QC; Artists Space, New York, NY; Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, NY; Flat Time House, London, UK; Drawing Room, London, UK; Spike Island, Bristol, UK; Witte de With, Rotterdam, NL; NICC, Antwerp, BE; University of Tasmania, Hobart, AU.
Melton Barker (raised in Dallas/Texas) was a more or less unknow American filmmaker. Both the year of his birth and the year of his death is not known. Information about his life and work remain largely in the dark. The film series The Kidnappers Foil was included in the historic collection of library of congress, Washington in 2013.
NO MATCHING PROJECTS
Tell me about yesterday tomorrow. A Book about the Future of the Past 2021 PUBLICATION
Curating contemporary art against the backdrop of a local context 2019 TEACHING
Heinz Frank. The Angle of the End Always Comes from Behind 2019 EXHIBITION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2018: Ting-Jung Chen & Hui Ye. Keep Me Close To You 2018–2019 EXHIBITION
Olaf Nicolai. There Is No Place Before Arrival 2018 EXHIBITION
Ieva Epnere. On water, wind and faces of stone 2018 EXHIBITION
Guy Mees. The Weather is Quiet, Cool, and Soft 2018 EXHIBITION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2017: Marlene Maier & Olena Newkryta: Everything a Hand Can't Take 2017–2018 EXHIBITION
Florian Hecker. Hallucination, Perspective, Synthesis 2017–2018 EXHIBITION
Publishing as an Artistic Toolbox: 1989-2017 2017–2018 EXHIBITION
Marlene Creates. To the Blast Hole Pond River 2017 EXHIBITION
Marcel Odenbach. Beweis zu nichts / Proof of Nothing 2017 EXHIBITION
Marcel Odenbach. Beweis zu nichts / Proof of Nothing 2018 PUBLICATION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2016: Margit Busch, Andrej Polukord 2016–2017 EXHIBITION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2016: Margit Busch. IF—THEN—ELSE. Welcome to Transciency 2016 PUBLICATION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2016: Andrej Polukord. The Sarcophagus 2016 PUBLICATION
Nathalie Du Pasquier. BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT 2016 EXHIBITION
Wilfrid Almendra. Light Boiled Like Liquid Soap 2016 EXHIBITION
Wilfrid Almendra. Light Boiled like Liquid Soap 2019 PUBLICATION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2015: Karina Mendreczky, Anastasiya Yarovenko 2015–2016 Exhibition
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2015: Karina Mendreczky 2016 PUBLICATION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2015: Anastasiya Yarovenko 2016 PUBLICATION
Charlemagne Palestine. GesammttkkunnsttMeshuggahhLaandtttt 2015 Exhibition
Charlemagne Palestine. GesammttkkunnsttMeshuggahhLaandttttt 2016 PUBLICATION
Individual Stories. Collecting as Portrait and Methodology 2015 Exhibition
Individual Stories. Collecting as Portrait and Methodology 2016 PUBLICATION
Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz. Future Light 2015 Exhibition
Function Follows Vision, Vision Follows Reality 2015 Exhibition
Flaka Haliti. Kosovo Pavilion for the 58th Biennial 2015 EXHIBITION
Pierre Bismuth. The Curator, the Lawyer and the Psychoanalyst 2015 Exhibition
Pierre Bismuth. Things I Remember I Have Done, But Don’t Remember Why I Did Them 2017 PUBLICATION
Tony Conrad. Two Degrees of Separation / Über zwei Ecken 2015 PUBLICATION
Gareth Long & Melton Barker. Kidnappers Foil 2014–2015 Exhibition
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2014: Leander Schönweger. The Fog Disperses 2014 Exhibition
Leander Schönweger. Die Nebel lichten sich 2014 PUBLICATION
Hannah Rickards. Grey light. Left and right back, high up, two small windows 2014–2015 EXHIBITION
Isa Genzken. I’m Isa Genzken, The Only Female Fool 2014 Exhibition
Isa Genzken. I’m Isa Genzken, the Only Female Fool 2014 PUBLICATION
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys. Das Wunder des Lebens (The Miracle of Life) 2014 Exhibition
Zin Taylor. The Story of Stripes and Dots 2013–2014 EXHIBITION
Zin Taylor. Lichen Voices/Stripes and Dots 2013 PUBLICATION
WWTBD – What Would Thomas Bernhard Do Festival 2013 EVENT
Act I: Beautiful from Every Point of View 2009–2010 EXHIBITION
John Kormeling. Dutch Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 2010 EXHIBITION
Liam Gillick. German Pavilion 53. Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte La Biennale di Venezia 2009 2009 EXHIBITION
Liam Gillick. How are you going to behave? A kitchen cat speaks 2009 PUBLICATION
William Hunt. Tempting Fate, Swimming Alone 2008 EXHIBITION
Liam Gillick. Three perspectives and a short scenario 2008 EXHIBITION
Isa Genzken. Deutscher Pavillon 52. Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte La Biennale di Venezia 2009 2007 EXHIBITION
Die Frage des Tages / The Question of the Day 2007 PUBLICATION
Michael Beutler. nicht innen sondern außen – nicht drinnen, sondern draußen 2004–2005 EXHIBITION
Ars Viva 03/04. Film: Jeanne Faust and Omar Fast 2004 EXHIBITION
Adorno: The Possibility of the Impossible (Vol. II) 2003 PUBLICATION
Adorno: The Possibility of the Impossible (Vol. I) 2003 PUBLICATION
Gerard Byrne. Books, Magazines, and Newspapers 2003 PUBLICATION
Alex Morrison. Giving the Story a Treatment 2005 PUBLICATION
Stephen Prina: An Evening of 19th- and 20th- Century 2003 EXHIBITION
Marcel Odenbach. Even If The Driver May Be Different, The Truck Still Remains The Same 2002 EXHIBITION
Husain / Richter / Jensen. Lavawoche – Krustenwoche 2001 EXHIBITION
Christa Näher. Das Malwerk und das Schöne 2000–2001 EXHIBITION
Tulipomania Dotcom: A Critique of the New Economy 2000 EVENT
Stephen Prina. To the People of the City of Frankfurt 2000 EXHIBITION
Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij. After the Hunt 2000 PUBLICATION
Man muss ganz schön viel lernen um hier zu funktionieren 2000 EXHIBITION
Dorothea von Hantelmann. Der andere Schauplatz 1999 EVENT
Benutzeroberfläche Stadt. Performanzen für den Frankfurter Kunstverein 1999 EVENT