Five Years, 3a Boothby Road, London N19 4A. June 2018
Dual Flying Kicks collaborative work by Stewart Home & Chris Dorley Brown plus solo work by Stewart Home. The show was facilitated & organised by Esther Planas with the assistance of the rest of the Five Years collective.
Dual Flying Kicks is an exhibition by Stewart Home and Chris Dorley-Brown. The collaborative works are two series of photographs. Firstly Occult Androgyny, morphs in which Dorley-Brown has photographed Home imitating pictures of a witch incarnating the triple goddess in her maiden form. Home and this Spanish but London based witch merge to create a higher being that has evolved beyond binary gender oppositions. In the second collaborative work, Dual Flying Kicks, Dorley-Brown has photographed Home imitating the hypermasculine poses of small plastic Bruce Lee toys. The plastic toys that served as models for this are also on display.
Of particular relevance to Home’s artist film Re-Enter The Dragon included in this show is the genre of kung fu movies – sometimes featuring Bruce Lee clones – known as Brucesploitation. Home explores the connections between eastern and western mysticism and the relationship of ‘the spiritual’ to bodybuilding and martial arts; while simultaneously delineating the ways in which hypermasculinity inevitably finds itself tipping over into the feminine. While Home is looking back to a film-culture of the seventies and eighties, he is also looking forward to a new world we have yet to create.
Home’s solo work in Dual Flying Kicks utilises digital video and text alongside found objects and imagery to explore cultural hybridity among other things. In the dialogue he wrote for his 40 minute art film Re-Enter The Dragon, Home brings together his theoretical and practical understanding of gender roles and androgyny, using occult and philosophic discourse to deepen understandings of the issues raised by the photographic works he’s produced in collaboration with Dorley Brown.
Smaller elements within the show have the function of unifying and illuminating the main works; viz Home’s film and the two sets of photographs produced in collaboration with Dorley Brown. For example tiger print material hung from the ceiling echoes a rug seen in the morphs but simultaneously invokes Brucesploitation because a number of the genre’s movies include the word ‘tiger’ in their titles. DVD releases of a few Brucesploitation flicks, including Return of the Tiger starring ‘Bruce Li’, are on display in the show. There is also a framed portrait of Bruce Lee bought from the shop Umit & Sons in Hackney, a cult film emporium Home was first taken to by his friend the Spanish witch Estrella who merges with him in the morphs.
An arrangement featuring a Chinese tea service, fortune cookies and a Mexican tray with a picture of masked wrestlers, is used to link the Occult Androgyny morphs to Home’s Re-Enter The Dragon film; while simultaneously touching upon martial arts, occult beliefs and problematic colonial histories. To address the latter first, in Filipino history the period from 1521 to 1898 is sometimes called the Spanish colonial period; this spans the Captaincy General of The Philippines located in the collection of Islands invaded by Spain and called by this imperial power ‘Las Islas Filipinas’, which were ruled from the part of Latin America known as New Spain until Mexican independence in 1821, when Madrid took direct control of The Philippines.
Although initiated into English Wicca, the witch featured in the morphs was born and raised in the mountains west of Valencia and is influenced by Spanish as much as English occult and religious traditions. For Estrella the Catholic faith she was brought up in finds its full realisation in Wicca, and she does not view witchcraft as in any way running counter to what some Protestants demean as ‘Mariolatry’. The found footage used in Home’s film features ‘the Bruce Lee of The Philippines’ Ramon Zamora. Filipino culture is extremely hybrid with Chinese and Polynesian influences merging with cultural elements associated with the powers that colonised its islands, initially Spain and later the USA. Home has edited the found footage he’s utilised in Re-Enter The Dragon to draw out Catholic and homoerotic elements within it; in the former in particular similarities between Mexican and Filipino cinema may be apparent to those familiar with both.
Some of the work in Dual Flying Kicks was previously exhibited in the Glasgow International show Re-Enter The Dragon at Queens Park Railway Club, other pieces are new and previously unseen.