Ambientals /The Craft
25 June – 20 August 2023
OCT0, Marseille

OCT0 is thrilled to premier a performance, video work, and installation by Ivan Cheng which has been commissioned and conceived to coincide with the launch of this new organisation. Taking its cue from the 1996 high school horror film ‘The Craft’, Ambientals /The Craft plays on juvenile revenge fantasies and the individuals’ ongoing desire to shift power relations and spheres of influence in society.

While many of Cheng’s previous videos involve his own performance footage, for The Craft he takes the role of the camera operator and director. He portrays three performers of different generations: Meg Harper, Aaron Kahn, and Magdalena Mitterhofer, drawing from their relationships as co-performers for other directors. He does so in distinct settings; a private apartment in Berlin, a public cemetery in Paris, and a black box rehearsal stage. Aligning acting techniques with representations of Wiccan witchcraft, The Craft moves between staged interviews and filmed monologues themed around notions of theatre training and rehearsal. Maintaining a fast shooting schedule, and giving the performers strict scripts, tasks, and frameworks with very little preparation, the video presents different degrees of possession and consequences of suspending disbelief. In using doowop acapella recordings to soundtrack the work, a historical form of the body imitating an instrument is positioned beside subjective descriptions of the training at the École internationale de théâtre Jacques Lecoq.

In the opening performance Ambientals, Cheng loosely appropriates the role of Nancy Downs, a character from the 1996 movie who misuses the magic powers she receives. Her exaggerated and iconic goth-like character is diluted by incorporating gestures from other characters that she desires in the universe of the teen movie. The script is punctuated by references to the relationship between performer and director in Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s ‘A Star Is Born’ (2018).

Running across the various wall surfaces of OCT0 is a series of tile sculptures resembling road markings. In this context they too function similarly as the performers, as a line of demarcation between a presumed inside and outside. These laser etched ceramics follow Cheng’s reflection on the function of online cookies: the bias and gaps of history and the gaps between audiences that they rhythmically create and maintain.

Later in the year, OCT0 will be publishing the third volume in Ivan Cheng’s ‘Confidences’ series. This series of novels takes the vampire genre as a host for his reflection on the temporality, projection and artificial delineation between audiences and performance. The exhibition and performance are presented as part of Festival de Marseille.

The Craft
4K video, 2023, 36:36
Performance: Meg Harper, Aaron Kahn, Magdalena Mitterhofer
Garments: Good and Bad (Marina M. Kolushova, Victor Stuhlmann, Ossi Lehtonen)
Text, camera, sound, edit: Ivan Cheng
French translation: Juliette Mello
Special thanks: Meg Harper, Aaron Kahn, Magdalena Mitterhofer, Gianmaria Andreetta, Tilman Hecker, N’gone Thiam, Thorben Gröbel, Good & Bad, Lisa Plaut, Alexander Iezzi, Shade Théret, Stefan Kalmár, Raoul Klooker

4K video, 2023, 15:08
Camera: Alexander Iezzi
Garments: Good and Bad (Marina M. Kolushova, Victor Stuhlmann, Ossi Lehtonen)
Performance, text, edit: Ivan Cheng
French translation: Juliette Mello

Highway (Marseille)
Laser engraved tiles, aluminium, 2023, dimensions variable
Production assistance: Ceel Mogami de Haas

OCT0 thanks
Sébastien Peyret, Véronique Traquandi, Patricia Chaveau, Eric Chaveau, Won Jin Choi, Nouria Behloul, Chris Kraus, Hedi El Kholti, Michèle Lamy, Festival de Marseille, Marie Didier, Edouard Montassut, Leandro Britto de Oliveira, Caetano Carvalho, R-A-I-O Studio, Victor Yudaev, Elia David, Danilo de Oliveira, Arnaud Arini, Charles Gohy, Dexter Sinister, Juliette Mello, Claudia Vilela, Jean-Christophe Lett, David Bussel, All supporters of OCT0

Photos: Jean-Christophe Lett