McCooper´s disturbing Works on “Valkyrie – Return of a Myth” by Martin Bayer for WARTIST - 22. Jan.2009
Reading on the current coverage of today’s German release date of the movie Valkyrie, I came across the both impressive and disturbing works of Mickey and Dita McCooper.
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 McCooper´s work Valkyrie: faceless and anonymous, they fill their central roles. What remains is haggardness.
Surely, Warist will report more on this fascinating artist.