BERLIN.- Kit Schulte Contemporary Art
starts the new season with the second solo exhibition Hung Like Elvis by American artist David Buckingham, celebrating the 2 year anniversary of the gallery in Berlin. Buckinghams sculptures are made of found metal seem deceptively simple, yet are brilliantly executed in technique and full of humor. Many of his artworks involve wordplay, challenging the viewer at first to decipher and recognize movie quotes or pop-culture phrases, charging the moment of recognition with active engagement, significance and amusement. For Hung Like Elvis, he created works reflecting elements of postwar American culture and a divided Germany, weaving in icons with subtle humor, irony and sarkasm.
For my Berlin show, Ive decided to make a Luger, which is emblematic of Germany and has been made there for more than a century. As a kid I grew up watching Hogans Heroes, a TV show about crafty Americans in a German POW camp during WWII. That was my first experience with German/USA relations, through a situation comedy, complete with laugh track. Both Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz carried Lugers, so it seems natural that I make a Luger for this show. - David Buckingham
Authoritarian relationships were newly interpreted in pop culture and had, with the American easiness, a liberating impact for Germanys postwar generation. The lingering ideal of the military soldier was replaced with the rock n roll hero Elvis Presley, and rebels like James Dean or Marlon Brando were glorified. While Germany was undergoing a serious and critical self-reflection on the Holocaust, America handled the experiences in a much lighter way, inventing situation comedies like Hogans Heroes, with Sergeant Schultz, a basically good-hearted man who, when confronted by evidence of prisoners' covert activities, simply looked the other way, repeating "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing. Even though the entertainment industry is Buckinghams greatest resource, he also refers to political events. An example is the declaration "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner) from John F.Kennedys speech on 26th of June in 1963 in front of Schönebergs city hall. The four words went around the world and are now part of our collective memory.
Buckinghams sculptures are part of American popular culture: he plays with the disrespect inspired by stories of youthful rebellion and the provocative, blatant, even intentionally vulgar and cheesy forms of expression that violate socially established norms of taste. Hung Like Elvis, as the exhibition title, clearly sums it up.
David Buckingham was raised in New Orleans and now lives and works in Los Angeles. He studied at the Rivington School in New York City, and has shown in solo and group exhibitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, New York and Chicago. His work has been included in an exhibition at the Riverside Art Museum, and in several private collections throughout the United States and Germany.