Koen Theys
Death Fucking Metal

// Koen Theys' early work was closely linked to the punk movement and related to the work of Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley and Tony Oursler. In parallel with punk, these artists show that violence can no longer be pictured in a traditional way. They criticize the prevailing power structures in images that are sometimes extremely violent. Theys' work too displays an extremely critical view of society, art and culture. Using humor and irony, he sheds light on the contradictions he finds and experiences as a contemporary artist. In the 1990s he made monumental photo-collages on the subject of the characteristically human inner conflict between 'wanting to be unique' and 'wanting to belong to the group. His formal idiom came to comprise inversions, distortions, duplications, mirror images and repetitions.
When digital images started to open up new possibilities in the late 1990s, the artist returned to his old love: video art. They still contained the sense of drama found in his early videos, but now they had a more brazen, comical touch. Theys' fascination with 'mass ornamentation' — e.g. water ballets or Chinese mass choreography — became increasingly evident. This was to be seen in long, monumental films that move very slowly. The artist explored phenomena from mass culture, the Internet and show business, adding a hint of humor.
DEATH FUCKING METAL is the third and final part of a trilogy, in which -Fanfare, Calme & Volupte (2007) was the first part and ',ATRIA' (2008) the second. In all three video works a group of people in uniform are lying around in a state of depression in a spectacular setting. In the first part they wear the frivolous uniforms of majorettes; in the second the official uniforms of riot police; and in this third part they wear the anti-uniforms of rock stars.
The scene was shot in a velodrome next to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent (S.M.A.K.) In the middle of the velodrome, a three-tier circular stage slowly turns. On it some thirty old rock stars sprawl amidst their instruments and amplifiers. The costumes, guitars and drums glitter in the spotlights, piercing the smoke on the stage. All the elements for a spectacular concert are there, but the musicians lie tired and depressed, scarcely able to manage a guitar riff, keyboard note or drum beat. One in a while a singer mutters a line from a famous rock, punk, or heavy metal song. As the stage slowly turns, the musicians pass across the screen in different close-ups.• The image of a skull predominates in the tattoos, stickers and jewelry, giving the rock concert the appearance of a still life