Loving Hating Men

The King Pins' Welcome To The Jingle

catalogue essay for the for VIDEO SWELL, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2009

In a world where women are made to be impossibly beautiful, The Kingpins make men look impossibly ugly. This is no simplistic reactionary stance played out in the parlour game of gender conflict. No tittering between 30-something urban princesses at an inner-city apartment balcony BBQ about hubby needs to be treated like a little boy. These four fearsome females transform themselves into the super-histrionic machismo of the most flaccid boys-in-men. They don’t simply pose as men (men are great posers anyway). Instead, they become the other, manifesting themselves as visceral figurines, evoking the briny presence of a man who smells of Calvin Klein, Bundaberg Rum, breath mints and cheap souvlaki. In a taxi.

Such are the beings split across the two screens of Welcome to the jingle. One screen features the testosterone nightmare of a Sigue Sigue Sputnik grid-iron team psyching themselves up in the dark void of a locker room. Adorned in grotesque masks of melted peacocks, they prowl and growl ‘How fast can you run?’ The adjacent screen features the aged pubescence of some pimply wannabes who think that working out keeps them fit for the corporate battlefield of their pissy jobs. Co-ordinated uniforms, tacky sports trimmings, anaemic countenances and limp athletics – like your dad trying out for the Olympics. Typically, they claim they can run ‘faster than a leopard’. Like, wow, dad.

But these figures are not simply held up for ridicule. The hulking beasts and skulking creeps of Welcome to the jingle are embodiments of maleness, rendered as screen bodies via the performative bodies of The Kingpins. It’s a multi-layered mode of performance built from drag viciousness, media subsummation and self-immolation. The result is not a facile critique fired from a safe remove. Within this work, (as with the bulk of their performative reverisoning of songs and video clips) the Kingpins become that which, in life, they most cannot, and it is in this gaping manqué (see Freud if you must) that they clearly assert their power.

Philip Brophy - Writer/artist/Sigue Sigue Sputnik devotee.

Text © Philip Brophy. Images © The King Pins.