Arcade is pleased to present the 1st solo exhibition in the UK where Marijke De Roover will present a stripped down ‘unplugged’ version of the recent operatic work Live, Laugh, Limerence commissioned by the David Roberts Art Foundation, which premiered at the Ministry of Sound evening of performances in October 2019.
Through her operatic performance Live, Laugh, Limerence, the artist questions the impact of how we culturally choreograph and organise the performance of love through heteronormative structures; the clichés of rom-coms, musical theatre, opera, karaoke and Disney. This exhibition features works from the recent series of ‘memes’ alongside the video version of Live, Laugh, Limerence.
Songs often attempt to describe how we feel when we’re in love, but in the describing, they are also prescribing; telling us how we should feel, creating norms we can compare to our own experiences. Opera specifically is filled with tales of violence; great passions tragically predetermined by social inequalities. These are usually crueller and more exclusionary towards women and other minorities, who occupy symbolically weaker positions.
The ‘Tragic Heroine’ is one of the key figures in the construction of heterosexual erotic desire. Her fatal flaws were her attraction to catastrophe, and her fidelity in (heterosexual) love. As a result of the suppression of real women, this cultural trope emerged as a patriarchal representation of the gender, and it was this fictional ‘woman’ who appeared on stage, suppressing the experiences, stories, feelings and fantasies of actual women. De Roover is interested in subverting this, and presenting a new kind of love, unprecedented in contemporary popular culture.
“Memes ought to be critically interpreted as texts!
Far from trivial, memes have been used to communicate political resistance and to develop a language, carrying the instructions for the reproduction of culture. Popularity and understanding are not default to progressive and inclusive memes. Rather, the simplification of the characters of memes rely on normative power structures, ultimately spreading stereotypical representations. Looking at gender in anonymous online spaces (where memes mostly circulate) we see they are more hostile and unwelcoming to anyone who does not identify as white and male. Sexualisation and objectification are far more common when social stigma can be detached from online actions.
In the series ‘niche content for frustrated queers’ I affirm heteronormativity as the prevailing sexual orientation. But in light of Generation Y’s online pessimism and self mockery, I am inspired by memes like a.o. ‘distracted boyfriend’ ‘drake hotline bling meme’, ‘there are no girls on the internet’ and ‘fun with foucault’ to express a way of thinking that shows how institutionalized heterosexuality structures gender, as well as other stratification categories, and closes off any critical analysis of its consequences. The ‘unsuccesful’ (because non viral, niche) memes deal with ideas of a wide variety of (in this series) coupling practices (e.g., dating, parties, marriage, and heartbreak) that secure the intersection of several consequential social hierarchies including gender, class, sexual orientation and institutional power.”
Marijke De Roover, 2019
Coming up on Saturday March 21st – Hot with Excess: A Season of Contemporary Artists’ Opera at the Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK, featuring a fully realised operatic version of Marijke de Roover’s Live, Laugh, Limerence. Especially for this occasion a pop-up orchestra produced customized arrangements for the musical pieces. The orchestra is based on a few musicians (from Kon. Harmonie De Jonge Scheuten) from Marijke’s hometown Wuustwezel near Antwerp (Belgium)
Marijke De Roover (BE, 1990) received her Bachelor (2011) and Master of Arts (2013) at KASK, Ghent, BE before completing her residency at HISK, Higher Institute of Fine Arts, Ghent in 2018. She recently opened her must see 1st Museum solo exhibition and series of performance works at De Pont, Tilburg, NL (until May 3).