In collaboration with 1/9 unosunove, Rome.
PER-OSKAR LEU – THE ENGLISH: ARE THEY HUMAN?
February 3 – 29 2012
Designer sportswear, customized car sunshades, window repair tools and electrical cooling fans make up Leu’s site-specific installation; a mechanized tableaux revolving (quite literally) around motifs of fashion, Futurism and football hooliganism. Within the group of objects, all mounted directly onto the large glass panes, two Italian made jackets form the focal point: Named after a 1920’s car race, the Mille Miglia parka with integrated goggles and iconic ‘built for speed’ appearance has become a sought-after garment among football fans with inclinations towards fighting and luxury apparel. Since the early 1980’s groups of British ‘risk supporters’ have embraced a dress code of upmarket, mainly French and Italian sportswear brands, a look which has in turn been adapted by fans in Europe following an increase in ‘The English Disease’ of football hooliganism. Simultaneously, Leu conjures up imagery from other cross-cultural phenomena equally fixated upon the cult of youthful aggression; namely the Italian Futurist movement and its English offshoot the Vorticist group, founded in 1909 and 1913 respectively. Dating from opposite ends of the 20th century, both Futurism and football ‘casuals’ promote a form of stylized violent catharsis, and share a deep-rooted anti-academic sentiment. Perhaps consequently, both movements have been known to harbour far-right sympathies. Reflecting on the aesthetics of brutality and current tendencies towards recreational violence, Leu brings together present-day football aggro with the Futurist vision of a remorseless, machine-like superman. Furthermore, THE ENGLISH: ARE THEY HUMAN? (from the bestseller, dated 1931, by the Dutch academic G. J. Renie, in which the author undertook an analysis of the British nature) looks at the unlikely presence of conspicuous consumption and metrosexual vanity in the traditionally male working-class world of terrace culture.