A.P. Komen & Karen Murphy
by Jaap Guldemond
For the 1993 installation Couples A.P. Komen tapped four car telephone conversations and combined them with evocative images reminiscent of home video. Thus we see a family get-together in a living room which has been voyeuristically filmed from outside, in the darkness, while we listen to a conversation between a married couple which reveals that the wife suspects her husband of having a mistress. Or we see a fiercely lit window filmed in Candid Camera style at which a woman is changing a baby’s nappy, while we listen to a conversation between a mother and her homosexual son about the breakup of his relationship.
In all four parts of Couples there is a strong tension between the filmed images, the tapped phone conversations and the position occupied by the viewer. The possibility of eavesdropping on the intimate phone conversations of strangers and spying on scenes filmed using concealed cameras makes the viewer feel both curious and ashamed.
In this way the work refers to the ever thinner line between what is private and what is public. This can be clearly seen in the explosive growth and success of talk shows in which guests brazenly reveal intimate matters before millions of TV viewers. At the same time there is the rapid rise of telephone sex, in which complete strangers exchange intimate experiences on a basis of anonymity, and the Internet, where again the borders between private and public are explored and altered.
These kinds of artworks and installations are characteristic of a new generation of artists. This generation hat no hesitation in using modern media such as large-scale video projection, bugging devices, cd-rom and home video, and links them in a natural, unpretentious way to everyday matters. These matters may not seem sensational, but to a large extent they determine and affect the lives of us all. Thus from the apparently casual A.P. Komen and Karen Murphy succeed in making compelling installations in an honest and individual way.