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Michel Valentino: Valkyrie – Return of a Myth

Thursday, 22. January 2009, 1634h Leave a comment Go to comments

 Michel Valentino’s disturbing Works on “Valkyrie – Return of a Myth”

Reading on the current coverage of today’s German release date of the movie Valkyrie,1 I came across the both impressive and disturbing works of Michel Valentino.

Born in 1972, Valentino is intensively and consistently dealing with war in his artistic work. At the end of the 1980s, he wanted to become a jet fighter pilot, but a nearly fatal accident changed his life as well as his perception of it: instead of pursuing a military career, he began to work artistically. His approach is multidisciplinary, including scenic photography, performances or fine arts. His subjects are based on a society that is being shaped by war, consumerism, politics, fashion, drugs, entertainment and constant propaganda.

Today, I confine myself to his performance and photographic series “Valkyrie – Return of a Myth” from 2007. Like most of his works, Valkyrie too is disturbing and full of (at least subliminal) violence. The series is dominated by a strange character that reminds of Colonel Graf von Stauffenberg: wearing a black (fantasy) officers’ uniform, the head nearly completely bandaged, one eye under a patch. The teeth are exposed by a medical instrument: is it a forced smile, or rather baring them?

The series begins with the picture “Political Opportunity” that contains references to death and continuity as well as on the myth as such: heroism and media-political  instrumentalisation at present. The standard bearer in his modern uniform of a jet fighter pilot is more than a possible alter ego of the artist. This second character appears again and again, as a shadow, as a praying penitent, as a proud poser, or gaining an accolade.

The central question remains: how would one have acted in that time, be it in the position of von Stauffenberg or in any other? Self-righteous, many talk as politically correct as prematurely how honestly they would have opposed the regime. Others accuse the conspirators of 20 July 1944 that they had acted too late, that they were following national-conservative ideas at least, that they had followed Hitler before, and that they had been soldiers at least (very yucky). But what would have been the individual reality, aside a knowing retrospective view, within the context of the time?

Another aspect of the myth is being addressed, too: how convenient is such a resistance group in retrospect! Heroic characters need simplifications. Thus the unpleasant necessity can be dropped to sincerely deal with the  characters’ complexity, the problematic issues of treason, oath and self-conception, the question of the hypothetical alternative future after a successful coup, and the motivation for such a deed. Dead heroes are even better, as one can exploit them more easy – and to misuse them as wildcard for a lacking debate.

There is no such question on the reason for the characters in Valentino’s work Valkyrie: faceless and anonymous, they fill their central roles. What remains is haggardness.

Surely, Warist will report more on this fascinating artist.

Further Links:
Michel Valentino’s website
Michel Valentino’s twitter
Michel Valentino’s MySpace
MichelValentino’s Facebook
Michel Valentino’s Behance

  1. See the Wartist entry on the German movie title; the European premiere of Valkyrie was on 20 January 2009.
  1. spyd
    December 24th, 2009 at 09:00 | #1

    ….naja mal ehrlich, kunst kann man das delitantische werk dieses selbsternannten jetpiloten wohl nicht nennnen, mir scheint, mit den düsteren visionen beschreibt dieser hochstapler eher sein shizo-neurotisches innenleben………….

  2. December 25th, 2009 at 12:25 | #2

    Hallo spyd,

    naja, mal ehrlich, sonderlich reflektiert ist Ihr Kommentar aber nicht gerade.

    Immer wieder glauben Leute, sie könnten definieren, was Kunst ist und was nicht, und besonders gern wird dann den Werken der angeblichen “Nicht-Kunst” und ihren Erschaffern unterstellt, sie taugen ja nichts, jeder könne so etwas machen und selbst Dreijährige dies noch besser etc.

    Solchen Leuten sei gesagt:
    1) Nein, sie können es nicht selbst, denn sonst hätten sie es getan.
    2) Kunst mag einem gefallen oder nicht; Kunst kann einen langweilen oder interessieren; aber Kunst ist immer Ergebnis eines kreativen Prozesses. Über Kunst läßt sich trefflich streiten – aber zu behaupten, dies oder jenes sei “keine Kunst”, ist einfach nur strunzendumm.

    Ansonsten mißfallen mir natürlich Beleidigungen wie “Hochstapler” durchaus, woher Sie auch immer die Chuzpe nehmen, diese Behauptungen loswerden zu müssen.

    Man merke: anderen Dilettantismus vorzuwerfen, aber gleichzeitig dieses offenbar doch recht schwierige Fremdwort (und gleich noch eines) nicht korrekt schreiben zu können, konterkariert den gewünschten Eindruck der Intellektualität.

    Mit besten Grüßen und ein Frohes Fest
    Martin Bayer

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