Candice Breitz: Babel Series
November 15 – December 10 2000
Candice Breitz’s (b.1972, Johannesburg) Babel Series (1999) is initially experienced as a cacophonous environment. Loud and seemingly indecipherable noises emanate from seven monitors, placed at varying heights in the gallery. On each monitor, Breitz has appropriated a moment from a popular music video and repeated it endlessly. One monitor, for example, shows Madonna moaning “Pa-Pa,” from her son “Papa, Don’t Preach.” Other performances are similarly manipulated so that the viewer experiences a jarring and disjointed visual image, trapped in a repetitive motion, accompanied by monosyllabic utterances ranging from “Me-Me” to “No-No.” At a time when pop English is the only language that may approach “universality” through its dissemination via mass culture to people around the world, the Babel Series reflects on the extent to which language is increasingly formed according to the influences of the global media.