Thursday, 1 November 2012

Mark Leckey - Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore

Mark Leckey (born 1964 in Birkenhead, Wirral) is a British artist, working with collage art, music and video.

Leckey rose to prominence in the art world with his video Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore. The video is a compilation of found footage from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s underground music and party scene in the U.K. It follows on the path of several previous appropriative art video artists and critics have remarked on its similarities with William S. Burroughs' technique of cut-ups, a literary technique whereupon a text’s sentences or words are cut up and later randomly re-hashed into a new text. Through “found and original footage of discos and raves across Britain during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s” he “chronicle[s] the rites of passage experienced by successive generations of British (sub)urban youth”.

Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore patches up several videos of young people dancing, singing and partying. It starts with the disco scene of the 1970s, touches upon the Northern soul of the late 1970s and early 1980s and climaxes with the rave scene of the 1990s. One underlying soundtrack plays during the whole video, giving a sense of unity and narrative to the video. At one point an animated element - a bird tattoo image - appears as if released from the hand of a dancer, then carried into the next shot finds its place on the arm of another of the film's nightclubbing subjects. Some dance moves are played on loop for a few seconds, some are played in slow motion. Writing about Leckey’s first few video pieces, which in addition to Fiorucci… include We Are (Untitled) (2000) and Parade (2003), the art critic Catherine Wood said that they “represent the human subject striving to spread itself out into a reduced dimensionality. His subjects dance, take drugs and dress up in their attempts to transcend the obstinate physicality of the body and disappear in abstract identification with the ecstasy of music, or the seamlessness of the image.”

It consists of stitched-together footage of British youth subcultures, from Northern Soul to the Acid House scene of the late 1980s. It has gained cult status, a touchstone for a generation of British video artists that sought to eschew the locked-off camera work and minimal narrative trajectory of 1990s video art. With its mix of documentary styling and music-video editing, Fiorucci… achieves the impossible task of delivering the urgency and frisson of young lives lived on the edge of the mainstream. A procession of dancing and spinning figures reveals the nature of the club, the style tribe and the momentary highs of the big night out. Slow-motion footage of young men lost in music and the culturally coded dance moves give way to police footage of 1980s casuals, sporting wedge haircuts and expensive Euro knitwear from Diadora, Ellesse and Fiorucci.
Mark Beasley

Fragments of "found" video footage from British nightclubs are spliced together, repeated and slowed down, while a perfectly edited collage of ambient sounds – snatches of rave tracks, crowd noise, men bellowing across provincial shopping precincts – filters in and out. There's a loose chronology – northern soul, soul weekenders, casuals, acid house – but the two defining themes of the film are timeless.

Firstly, what deeply strange places nightclubs are; hundreds of strangers, all as high as kites, crammed together in a deliberately disorientating space. And secondly, how much poignancy there is in something ostensibly celebratory; the idea that "the best days of your lives" will be wiped away by a change in fashion. Leckey captures this beautifully in the occasional sound of tolling bells, the endless headlong rush of the video timecodes, the snippets of empty rooms and the suddenly frozen images of young, apprehensive faces.

Jonathan Jones wrote that "(Leckey) haunts the secret parts of modern culture, where memory and emotion linger". By doing so, he succeeded where almost everyone else fails – in accurately conveying what it feels like to be inside a nightclub, when being inside a nightclub is the most important thing in your life. Thanks to online video sites, the film is now available again; take 15 minutes to put on the headphones and sink back into Britain's clubbing past.
Justin Quirk 

The seminal piece of British video art, Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999), successfully took thirty years of underground musical heritage and concentrated something of the heart of that into a fifteen minute artwork. Fiorucci is an audio-visual collage of found and manipulated footage from the vaults of the hallowed archives of sub-cultural movements and club goer’s recordings; beginning with Northern Soul, via Football Casuals and ending at the early 1990s Rave scene. The work brings together footage of spaces enlivened by groups of people connected together through both the music they are listening to and the clothes they are wearing. Recalling Jennie Livingston’s critically acclaimed 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning, Leckey likewise describes communities for which the status symbols of clothing mixed with studiously mimicked behavioural gestures are used not necessarily to express who you are but where you want to be. Leckey described this process, saying, “to take something from culture that’s greater than you and turn it to your own ends… seems to me the only gesture you can make in the face of total brand capitulation”. This gesture seems most commonly used as a form of cultural positioning through branding; something which not only connects you to a group but equally distinguishes you from an ‘other’. This idea is epitomised somewhat in the muffled voice shouting over a cheering crowd in Fiorucci, “this is for the Champagne crew, we do not need anybody, we are independent”.
Hannah Knights

Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (Mark Leckey) from Anon. on Vimeo.


lucy joy said...

Most impressive. Coincidentally, I stumbled upon a compelling YouTube video of a 'rave' night a couple of weeks ago, it fascinated me and I sent it to my friends.
I watched it over and over. I like the lady in red at 2.16 minutes, the guy doing a chicken dance a few seconds later, the guy in yellow anticipating the next tune is pretty cool too.
You get the best example.of The Pogo at 4.23 minutes, and 6.16 minutes there's a real livewire.

Such churches of abandon. I wish I could dance all night without chemicals.

Thanks for sharing these superb clips, I'm very excited by them.


_Black_Acrylic said...

Hi Lucy, thanks for that Atmosphere clip, it's always a pleasure to watch such uninhibited dancing!

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