MADRID.- La Casa Encendida
of Obra Social Caja Madrid plays host to the exhibition Mistaken Identity by the Hilton Brothers (Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg). The Hilton Brothers artistic duo emerged as a result of a series of collaborations between the two artists. While travelling a few years ago, they realised that they were interested in the same themes and, as something of a joke, decided to photograph the same things. The idea of identity who took which photo and why was the difference discernible led them to begin a series of diptychs in which they would photograph two objects separately but then put them together in the same print. This marked the beginning of their exploration of other collaborative projects.
The Hiltons photographs reveal a naïve perspective diffused by a certain contemporary cynicism. Captured on their travels around the world, their images are the outcome of subdivisions and reconstructions in which the different locations of places are merely panels of aesthetic snippets combined to produce works which form an intrinsic part of their philosophy of life, taste and American culture.
The 65 works featured in this exhibition range from their early days as individual artists to the photographs of the present day which reflect two identities that merge and disappear. Their snippets of reality aim to open a window from which the spectator can view and explore the bizarre confluence that arises between the shocking and the aesthetic. The Hiltons aim to present their approach to art in the complex, challenging and banal world of the 21st century.
Furthermore, as one of the parallel activities to the exhibition, the Hilton Brothers will offer a workshop for young artists at which they will discuss their knowledge and strategies for working in the complex field of art, including ways of connecting with the circles that encourage the production of artistic projects and how to propose different creative forms to potential sponsors.
The Hilton Brothers
Inspired by the Hilton Sisters, the Siamese twins vaudeville stars of the 1930's, and the Hilton Sisters of today, the famous hotel airesses in North America, who epitomized pop culture banality at the dawn of this new century. Our life is our art as much as what we put on paper, explains Makos. We like to have fun with identity to amuse ourselves, thus amusing others."
Their art is not only about having fun representing the duality of contemporary identity. As in their travels and creative activity, they aim to turn creating and being artists into a type of joie de vivre.
When they met and created the Hilton Brothers in 2004, American culture and art in general were both at the height of banality, with frivolity being used as a means of escape and a way to forget about the hard, difficult times that come with all periods of war.
The Hilton Brothers claim that their art is not a form of political criticism but the expression of their desire to produce objects that respond to the traditional idea of what is popularly recognised as appealing.
Cristopher Makos worked with Andy Warhol and collaborated with Man Ray, and the artistic duo recognise that the sophistication and irony of both of these authors are strong influences in their work. Paul Solberg, a student of anthropology, not only identifies with the way Makos sees the world but also shares his concept of bringing together snippets of the world as he travels through it.
Christopher Makos was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, grew up in California and then moved to Paris where he studied architecture and worked as Man Ray's assistant. In 1983 he visited Spain with Andy Warhol and has had close ties to the country, and Madrid in particular, ever since. During his long periods of residence here, he befriended and photographed some of the lead players of the movida madrileña, the cool Madrid scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Andy Warhol called Makos the most modern photographer in America.
Makos has exhibited his photographs at numerous international galleries and museums, including the Gugghenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM) in Valencia, La Casa Encendida in Madrid, and recently the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing, China. In 2007 the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía in Madrid acquired two of his large-format portraits of Warhol for its permanent collection. His images have appeared in countless magazines and newspapers around the world, including Architectural Digest; Interview; Forbes; ELLE Decor; Rolling Stone; New York Magazine; Condé Nast Traveler, Spain; and Life Magazine, China. Christopher Makos is also the author of several prominent books, such as White Trash (Stonehill, 1977), and more recently of books such as Warhol/Makos In Context (PowerHouse, 2007) and ANDY WARHOL IN CHINA 1982 (timezone8, 2008). He currently lives in New York.
Paul Solberg was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. He studied anthropology and photography in Cape Town, South Africa. His first published book, Bloom, explores the theme of flowers as objects. His second publication, co-authored with Makos for the Regional Government of Madrid, is entitled 31.12.06. In his third book, entitled Puppies Behind Bars and also co-authored with Makos, prisoners and dogs are the central theme. Solbergs photographs have been published in Conde Nast Traveler, Publishers Weekly, Elle, Lucky and Ocean Drive, as well as in the European publications, Vanidad and Alter Ego. Paul Solbergs work has been shown at Ralph Pucci (New York), Chiaroscuro Gallery (Arizona), Young Gallery (Brussels), Flo Peters Gallery (Hamburg), ARCO (Madrid) and at Paris Photo with the Baudoin Lebon gallery. He currently lives in New York.
The curator, Lola Garrido
Lola Garrido Armendáriz was director of photography projects for the Banesto Foundation and put together the collection that was subsequently donated to the MNCARS. She has directed the Fotocolectania Foundation for six years and the Canal de Isabel II for three years. She has curated numerous photography exhibitions and is a prominent collector. As an art critic, she contributes regularly to Cadena Ser, La Vanguardia, El País and other media outlets.
Speaking about the exhibition, the curator Lola Garrido said, The spirit of Warhol is an obligatory reference when assessing the work of the Hilton Brothers because of the statement that everything is beautiful: objects, merchandise and even all of us, at least at some point of our lives, are beautiful. If there is anything that is illuminating in the work of these photographers, it is the fact that documenting countries and travels, and then mixing and deconstructing them, results in the disappearance of what is real, a crucial part of that lost identity that gives rise to the new identity.
Their works are the product of travels, of controlled adventures, journeys of knowledge and renewed knowledge, and yet the only thing that exists in their work is a permanent affirmation of appearances. As opposed to theory, their work is fashioned with the weapons of humour, irony, parody and contrast.
The Hiltons are artists of the here and now, and artists of themselves. As Barthes noted about the discourse of advertising, they are capable of living life as if it were one long quote, rather than as a fatality."