Malcolm McLaren's Shallow 1-21, an 86-minute video on DVD (Lent by Brook and Pam Smith) will be on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
(PAFA) in the Morris Gallery from October 24, 2009 - January 3, 2010. This will be the first time the video will be shown in its entirety in the United States.
A pop cultural icon for over thirty years, McLaren is a visionary artist. Always at the forefront of culture and pushing boundaries, he is probably best recognized for his work in melding fashion with music.
Shallow 1-21 consists of 21 "musical paintings." Using both musical cut-ups and short clips appropriated from old sex films that have been spliced, repeated, and slowed down, the result is hypnotic, layered, and provocative.
"I considered making portraits of people about to have sex," explains McLaren, "This as it turned out, involved trawling through and selecting scenes from hundreds of old and often obscure amateur sex movies: 8-mm films of ordinary folk who played a part in sex films before sex cinema turned into the industry as we know it today. I slowed down most of the images until sometimes they almost stood still, revealing through their age, a certain painterly quality."
McLaren continues, "I made 21 musical works from a grab bag of pop culture's debris of the past 50 years. In linking these musical cut-ups to the face of those sexual encounters, I can't say what happens is what happened. The alchemy made possible another meaning far deeper than what existed before. I began to call these works the musical end of painting because they are not films or videos but another form entirely; a map of feelings that navigates the look of music and the sound of fashion."
Born in London in 1946, McLaren was educated at art schools in England. In 1971, McLaren with his then partner, Vivienne Westwood, opened the legendary Let It Rock shop in London, creating fashion that would dress the Punk Generation and inspire legions of fashion designers. In the mid-1970s, McLaren founded, managed and art directed the iconic Punk band, the Sex Pistols. He then went on to work with such artists as Boy George, Adam Ant, and Bow Wow Wow, before becoming a recording artist in his own right. In the 1980s and 90s, McLaren's solo albums, Duck Rock, Fans, Waltz Darling, and Paris were major musical breakthroughs exploring Hip Hop, Opera, R&B, and Lounge Music, among other genres. In 1985, McLaren went to Hollywood where he worked as a development executive for Columbia Pictures and Steven Spielberg. He lives and works in New York and Paris and has been writing music, producing films, writing "radio movies," and giving live performances.
"Malcolm McLaren is an iconic figure who has contributed immensely to fashion, pop-culture, and art," states PAFA's Curator of Contemporary Art Julien Robson. "Once again, in Shallow 1-21, he brilliantly reconfigures how we think about the world. I am thrilled that PAFA is premiering this compelling and imaginative work and that Philadelphia audiences will be the first to see it."