Javier Peres is very pleased to present “BOY”, the first solo exhibition by Cody Critcheloe – SSION (B. Kentucky USA. Lives and work in Kansas City, MO) in Germany. “BOY” brings together nine separately shot but jointly conceived music videos for SSION’s 2007 record Fool’s Gold.
First things first! It’s SSION, pronounced “shun,” as in mission, fission, ambition-all apt words to describe the gesamtkunstwerk that is Cody Critcheloe and the queer punk/performance/art band he invented ten years back as a high school student in Lewisport, Kentucky. In the time since then, SSION has released 4 full-length records, toured extensively through the United States, and enjoyed cult status among fans and music writers who have lauded Critcheloe as everything from Out magazine’s Hottest Artist of the Year to “Prince’s love child” to the “one true master” of “high-concept sleaze pop.” Critcheloe’s songs are catchy, not abstract, and his visuals and live shows are crafted to appeal to more than an art-going crowd. SSION could easily cross over to become a pop phenomenon-a potentiality (or prophecy) which, in a stroke of self-reflexive genius, Critcheloe has already written into the narrative arc of his work to date. The story of SSION is a raucous, louched up, camp parody of Critcheloe’s own life, in which a small-town punk kid hooked on doughnuts and pizza follows his dreams with razor focus to emerge as a svelte, smoky-eyed pop star embraced by adoring crowds. And here, it seems, is the catch. While the annals of art and film give us plenty of examples to draw on for theorizing the artist’s alter ego, the image-obsessed dandy, the high-camp auteur, and the concept band, the discourse is less prescribed for an artist and musician who straddles all of these genres while aspiring to create work that actually is pop in the broadest and most populist sense of the word.
SSION’s first feature-length film, BOY, affords a fresh opportunity to consider the band’s work in the context of popular media and within the discourses of contemporary art. To situate the work this way is to necessarily highlight a degree of fluidity, criticality and complexity in the work that far exceeds the typical coming-of-age movie or arena concert experience.