Breaking out of the Black Bocx/White Cube in Rotterdam
… This transformation of the personal story into an exposé of universal significance was executed to stunning effect in The Final Countdown by Koen Theys. Theys collected over 2000 YouTube video clips in which individuals or groups, bands or orchestras, reality TV contestants or entire stadiums, render the first bars of the chart-topping song ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe. Collaging these vignettes into a continuous loop of the opening notes, Theys turns what could have been a monotonous homage to ‘80s kitsch rock into a stunning and joyful crescendo of a famous riff.
After the opening shots, which rather comically show the first notes being played on pint-sized instruments associated with child’s play, Theys takes us on a journey across different continents and demographics, offering glimpses into people’s lounge rooms, the rock-star fantasies of teenage boys, the self-conscious styling of a young woman and even the thumping bass of a rave party. The wide range of the performances is not only revealing of the song’s worldwide popularity, but also a fascinating anthropological account of the contemporary human condition, exposing underlying similarities despite differences in age, gender or race.
While the bravado and exhibitionism of the people is clearly apparent, Theys’ work also functioned as a mirror reflecting our own concomitant (perhaps guilty?) voyeurism. It is not just that our generation wants to share; we also want to glance into people’s dreams, laugh at their failures or cringe at their humiliation. Ultimately, however, Theys’ work does not seek to pass judgement; there is no moralistic undertone, rather it is a memoralisation of our desire to perform for an audience …
Justine Grace – Lola Journal