born in 1965 in Hall/Tirol (AT),
lives and works in Vienna (AT)
Richard Hoeck & John Miller
As an artist, critic and musician, Miller has used mannequins in his work to explore the notion of subjectivity for more than 20 years. In “Mannequin Death” or „Mannequin Debris“, as a special version, Miller works with long-time collaborator Richard Hoeck to develop this enquiry in relation to notions of identification and landscape.
This mesmerizing and disturbing video references the inherent violence Immanuel Kant proposes in distinguishing the sublime from the beautiful. Standing precariously on a bucolic Alpine mountainside, a string of mannequins plummet over a cliff’s edge into a quarry, one-by-one. The perpetrator, apparently, a mannequin arm that comes abruptly into frame. Though the victims are unmistakably mannequins, the image of them crashing onto craggy rocks, their plastic limbs dislodging on their descent, remains an irreconcilably violent one. Beyond the almost automatic destruction lies a challenge to optimism and the question of whether one can maintain it, knowing that the disfigurement of bodies (and ideas) is an ever-present possibility. If we consider technology as the product of a nexus of gestures or choices, it may as well begin with a simple push (of a button or body). In this sense, the slightest gesture is capable of breaking a body to ist advantage. Such is the dissolution of authority by a gesture that only a single individual needs to make, that it overshadows the promise of any collaborative effort, which necessarily entails negotiation and compromise. Here, two people may produce something less absolute than one.
Beyond the brutality of breaking humanoid figures, lies a soteriological opportunity, a hint of salvation. An empty promise, maybe. Now it’s over, some would claim, but an ending may be read as either a period or a colon. What comes next after a disaster or a happy ending? Three days after Flight 9525 crashed, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued a temporary recommendation to require that at least two people remain in the cockpit at all times whenever an aircraft is airborne. In 1990 John Miller made “My Friend” a mannequin dressed in allbrown attire. It was his first work like this; and at the time he believed it to be hid last (Tenzing Barshee)