Claude Closky b. 1963
200 Mouths To Feed (1994)
Claude Closky, ‘200 Mouths To Feed,’ 1994, video presented on a monitor, silent, 5 minutes. Coproduction Centre pour l’Image Contemporaine (S-G,G), Geneva.
Bodies, faces, lips, disembodied mouths, couples feeding each other and families at table. Swallowing, biting, drinking – chocolates, chewing gum, sandwiches, ice cream, hamburgers and various drinks. The human being is propelled into centre stage, viewed through a combination of gestures and looks: advertising works on bodies. Children, young people, old people, redheads, brunettes, blonds – so many ideas of beauty to the standards of television signifiers. A video that reflects the idealised image of the middle class in Western countries – a mass that lives well, that consumes; a succession of chromos of human lives. Glacial images that vaunt the warmth of a prosperous world, which encourages the spirit of covetousness and the thirst of ambition. The work is the result of three days of television programmes recorded continuously. From this, Claude Closky has taken only the sequences that involve the absorption of nourishment, a Perec-style survey where advertising has the starring role – that of offering images of peace and happiness, the opposite of the violence of our world as seem by the news media. In the glare of these media representations, which offer themselves as models and sing the praises of the products of the world of markets, we plunge into a conformity of cultures. Out of this universal quality of advertising, a territory emerges: the geography without frontiers of brands where consumers communicate. "[Consumption], because of its quality of total penetration into the fabric of society, institutes a kind of indiscreet hyper-conviviality, that is never-ending and inescapable – it is something that the subject incorporates and which provides him/her with a most ordinarily present substance" 1. The indifferentiation that is growing in the world flows through this video.
Contrary to its original principle, this imagery ends up by cancelling all illusions and gives the feeding function a strange, absurd air. A loop of images to the point of visual indigestion. Claude Closky shows those little, everyday actions, which are anodyne, but which become more and more artificial as they are tirelessly repeated. The images, made in different manners (video or photogramme), are not retouched in any way. They all have the same value; nothing is taken away or lost. Except perhaps a feeling: the lie of the messages; here, the stereotypes coupled with all of the products, sends the gregarious spirit sought into the realms of stupidity. Everything passes in a loop, with an air of déjà vu. In this advertising mix, each image has a superlative and drowns the consumer in his/her consumption.
200 bouches à nourrir depicts "a society where it seems that everything must be consumed, agitated by a principle of fundamental self-cannibalism: la société de consommation de soi."