TO LOSE – a video commission by Arte Creative (2011), HD, 2min. 48sec.
Ondrej Brody & Kristofer Paetau present a fictional artist incorporated by an actor, presenting himself under the pseudonym “To Lose” and showing some similarities in size and clothing with his famous predecessor Toulouse Lautrec. His name is program: To Lose. Apart from sounding vaguely french and somehow familiar in art history it is the dooming failure contained in the artist’s name that is the focus of the work. To Lose is showing the struggle of an artist to ‘come up’ with an idea for his first solo exhibition in an ‘invisible dialogue’ with the public, ultimately transforming his struggle and his failure into a work of art ending with the last rebellious words of Toulouse Lautrec pronounced on his death bed to his own father: “vieux con!” (old cunt!).
In their video work and interventions throughout the last seven years, Ondrej Brody and Kristofer Paetau have emerged as ›agents provocateurs‹ of the international art scene. In an era when seemingly any action or type of work is deemed acceptable and marketable by the contemporary art establishment, Brody and Paetau continue to probe the borders of taste and sensibility, posing a serious threat to the normative social conditions of the art world and making a strong argument for the possible emergence of a new and virulent avant-garde.
The artists’ task is often approached via an interrogation of the idols of classical Modernism. »To Lose« will not be an exception. Resonating with the artists’ recent exploration of human verticality, »Ein lebendiger Gartenzwerg in Bad Ems«, »To Lose« will see the artists-as-curators introducing a new-old artist on to the contemporary art scene. His name is To Lose. Not Toulouse-Lautrec, exactly, but perhaps a descendant. A descendant ›invented‹ by the curators. But what will To Lose show in this, his first important solo exhibition? Will he be able to sustain the myth of artistic genius that has carried his career this far and preserved his predecessor’s name in the annals of art history? What role is left for the curators to play, now that they have ›handed over‹ the exhibition to this infamous, yet unknown artist? Is an artist just a name? What is in a name, anyway?
As their practice is always first and foremost a critical one, Ondrej Brody and Kristofer Paetau thus set up two conflicting ideas against one another in »To Lose«: the contemporary’s preference for the biographical over the difficulty of the work itself, and the contemporary artist’s struggle, in spite of all this, to continue to ›make it new‹, in the Modernist tradition. In the end, To Lose hopes to demonstrate exactly why, in a post-hyper-capitalistic scenario, to lose might be a more rewarding premise than to win.