Former Models: An Exhibition is a group show in the gallery of BRIC House that was conceived as both an independent exhibition and as a scenic element for WOW, an experimental opera loosely focused on themes of surface, veneer and reproduction, stemming from the legendary Milli Vanilli lip-syncing scandal. This exhibition takes its title from a video work by Benjamin Pearson which navigates themes of just-in-time production, planned obsolescence, and the desperate striving of the artist-creator by reimagining the tragic story of Rob Pilatus, half of the pop music duo Milli Vanilli. Pearson's video will be presented in the exhibition. Former Models: An Exhibition is curated by post-pop art duo and group-exhibition-cum-music-video-set producers Merkx&Gwynne, and marks their first time as set designers within the framework of a theatrical production.
In revisiting the very small body of material that comprises Milli Vanilli’s music video career, one quickly notices the recurring motif of the love triangle. The 1989 video for Girl I’m Gonna Miss You depicts a narrative in which Fab’s art dealer girlfriend offers Rob an exhibition after an intimate studio visit. The gallery is hung with several paintings in a generic 1980s neo-expressionist style and at the opening reception the centerpiece of the show is unveiled behind muslin cloth. The image revealed is a portrait of the gallerist in the artist’s shirt, half-naked in bed.
The large paintings in this exhibition are freshly commissioned reinterpretations of those in theGirl I'm Going to Miss You video. Portraiture is a central concern. The gallerist picture is recreated three times by artists Cy Amundson, Peter LaBier, and Paul Jacobsen. Additional paintings are based on stills from the video, or make direct reference to aspects of the band. Other works in the exhibition stand as imperfect pairs; manipulated in various ways to elicit uniqueness, yet not clones.