The Return of Jackie & Judy (+ Joey)

Laurent Delaye Gallery, London
1 February – 28 March 2002

Liam Gillick, 100 Reviews³, Alberta Press, London, 2002, ISBN 3-88375-570-2
Mark Beasley, ‘Mark Dean’, Frieze, issue 68, 2002
Tamsin Dillon, ‘Twice Upon a Time’, Filmwaves, 1/2002
Martin Herbert, ‘Mark Dean’, Time Out, March 13-2 2002
Florence Hallett, ‘Mark Dean’, What’s On, March 20, 2002
PL, ‘Mark Dean’, Art Review, February 2002

exhibited works:




The Return of Jackie & Judy (+ Joey)



Mark Beasley, ‘Mark Dean: The Return of Jackie & Judy (+ Joey)’, Frieze 68, Summer 2002 

For William Burroughs ‘a punk was someone who took it up the ass’. For the late Joey Ramone Punk was about ‘kicking ass’, at least musically speaking. It was an attitude, a force that kicked against middle-class complacency and avoided overt definition. Today Punk is a glitter T-shirt available from Hennes & Mauritz.

For his video installation The Return of Jackie & Judy (+ Joey) (2002) Mark Dean remixed and synched an early Ramones tune, ‘Judy is a Punk’ (1976), with archival footage of Jackie Kennedy and Judy Garland. Originally written in memoriam to two Ramones fans, the song is an endless amphetamine fuelled three-chord chorus of ‘Jackie is a punk, Judy is a runt’. Dean’s split-screen projection consists of two looped grainy images that slide through endless colour spectra. In the first of these images Jackie Kennedy, dressed in riding hat and leather gloves, sits astride a show horse. Every inch the affluent debutante, she appears at ease and in control, riding with snake-like rhythm. The second image, a clip from The Wizard of Oz (1939), reveals a young Judy Garland in pigtails and white dress. Arms outstretched, she is caught performing a balancing trick on a pigsty fence. The balancing act fails and she falls. As farm girl Dorothy, it is an unselfconscious act performed, possibly out of boredom, with her back to the camera. It is a moment of quiet endeavour that ends in an elaborate stage dive, amid a flurry of skirt, straight into the pigshit below, only to be resurrected courtesy of Dean’s digital rewind and then slowly looped ad infinitum.

Such distended and carefully selected components suggest there is meaning to be found in Dean’s bricolage. Is it an allegorical take on class and privilege? Jackie Kennedy was the undisputed queen of a country that claims no royalty. The First Lady – a title she disliked (‘it sounds like a saddle horse’) – was riding at the age of four and winning equestrian championships by the time she was five. Trapped in endless horse displays, the image reveals a public poise that countered the internal anxiety of a woman who was twice widowed. Garland too was forced to perform and first appeared on stage at the tender age of six. By the time she starred in The Wizard of Oz at the age of 17, the pressure of performing and the need to maintain her voice and physical appearance led to the prescription of psychotropic drugs such as amphetamines. Euphemistically described by the Hollywood industry as her ‘artistic medicine’, these would later lead to her death as the result of a drug overdose. Dean’s push and pull of implied meaning rub against each other, an approach that results in more questions than answers. Is he really asking us to reconsider the First Lady as a punk or the drug-crippled Garland as a runt? As public and private lives tumble into each other, interpretations arrive and dissolve in equal measure.

Dean’s work begs to be deciphered; it is an activity that stays in the mind long after the initial gut response to the soundtrack. Perhaps what is most clear and compelling is the artist’s take on risk and privilege. What is risky for one is not for the other. When Judy falls there’s no back-up, save for the rewind button; were Jackie ever to falter, it is easy to imagine the clamour of eager support. The implied relation of Judy’s failure and Jackie’s success speaks of class division, yet the lived reality of both was bitter-sweet.

Dean revels in the mechanics of manipulated experience, cranking the moods of his video to paranoiac levels. An earlier work, Goin’ Back (The Birds/The Byrds x 32 + 1) (1997), sees the actress Tippi Hedren trapped in a slow-motion loop, reliving the horror of being attacked in Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). In another, Dennis Hopper’s voice rises and falls hypnotically as he struggles with the mantra ‘there’s nothing to fear but fear itself’. Dean’s latest work again allows reentry into the celluloid moments of the past; a considered cultural mining that ponders lost energy, power and class. If Punk no longer constitutes a moral or political threat to society, then Dean’s co-opting of its questioning energy is perhaps enough. As with the fusion of Pop and political history employed in the work of Sam Durant – in particular his video work examining the fateful Rolling Stones festival at Altamont, California – Dean proposes new meanings in the fragments of the past. It is a slight yet beguiling return for Jackie, Judy and Joey. A compelling last gig.



Liam Gillick, ‘Mark Dean: The Return of Jackie & Judy (+ Joey)’, 100 Reviews³, Alberta Press, 2002, ISBN 3-88375-570-2

The ingredients of this exhibition shouldn’t amount to much. The reference points are insufficiently nimble or original. It cannot be a coincidence that this exhibition is taking place at the same time as the Warhol retrospective at Tate Modern. Yet this single presentation is a successful work. There is a critical attention to corrupted subject matter here that is counter-intuitive. The exhibition takes its elements by surprise and the recipe for its success only works when viewed as a relational tool. Here we have something based on iconography, presentation and effect that circles and collapses continually into a lulling sound and visionscape, which keeps itself and its references in constant check. Turning in on itself. Pulsing and expanding while simultaneously sucking on meaning. The shifting visual, aural, intellectual and ideological status of the work is mainly constructed and made effective by the pointed formal decision-making behind the presentation. The shifting colour tone of the video and the layered editing of the sound are straightforward techniques, but in the service of the work and in response to the source material, they sit in lucid parallel to the implications of the source and result. Judy Garland falling into a pig-sty and reversing back up and out again. Jackie Bouvier/Kennedy/Onassis riding across the video plane of a projected rectangle. The formal consideration involved in the positioning of the video projections on the wall and the careful editing and reworking of the Ramones soundtrack, ensure that issues around the passing of time and meaning are at the heart of the show. You are not left with any revised thoughts about the construction of celebrity or the potential empathy that might be evinced by dealing with Jackie Kennedy or Judy Garland or Joey Ramone for that matter. And then again you are.