Softrock hard love

by Socrates Mitsios and Actually Huizenga

Socrates Mitsios and Actually Huizenga met in London and got married in Athens on June 30th 2011 at 20:30, while shooting their first project together entitledSoftrock. She, a Los Angeles extravagant creature, singer, performer, visual artist and descendant of a family of ‘royal’ playmates. Socrates, born and raised in New York, studied psychiatry at New York University, and has since developed a photographic career induced with hallucinatory-idealism from the grey depths of London and the sunny-pop-plasticity of LA, where, between the two cities, he now resides

Socrates Mitsios and Actually Huizenga, SoftRock 1, 2011film stills
Courtesy of the artists

Mitsios says:
Softrock I is basically the meeting of two, their unity through sex, and the body is the landscape explored. The images of the outer world and nature only exist through the ‘cracks’ of the narrative. It alludes to an idyllic state, a state of pre-pleasure and its necessary counterpart, pain. This is ‘fleshed’ out in more and more detail in the subsequent parts. In II & III more people are involved, as the nature of the relationship between the two becomes increasingly complicated. The marriage – our marriage – is sort of a desire to go back to that early idyllic state but all the while carrying the complexities of earthly life and passion and abandon. SoftRock I is about a certain kind of unity that is expressed directly and through its opposites: Love through idealized rape, while snuff film making or pornography is aestheticized and made beautiful. The woman, who is seen as sexually submissive, is an initiating force – she has an identity, looking into the camera with a mixture of defiance and cheekiness. Certain of what she wants. The film is more like the Renaissance reading of “Leda and the Swan” in which their meeting, the rape of Leda, is one of erotic compliance not of violation, as in the classical sense. So SoftRock I embellishes this further and brings it into the twenty-first century. The woman adorns herself in fetishistic red ribbon, tied to the chair. She enjoys her sexual liaison; in fact, she orchestrates it, despite her ostensibly passive/submissive situation. In fact, she might be the creator of this through her fantasy world and imagination.

“The video art duo Actually Huizenga and Socrates Mitsios like to be watched. The two have created a trilogy of short video works that they have colourfully referred to as “Pop Rape” – two words that have, as far as I know, never been placed side by side, perhaps for justifiable reason. The films are an exhibitionistic display of naked, hypersexed bodies. At once glossy and vulgar, fastidiously disciplined and wildly chaotic, the films are an exercise in the photogenics of sex. SoftRock, the first film in the trilogy, is a colour-saturated, digital experiment in stylized pornography. Shot in Athens, the film encapsulates some of the sexual energy and unsettling volatility of contemporary Greece. There is something volcanic, earthen and tectonic about this film that speaks to the fact that it was shot in a nation of atomised islands. The atmosphere of the film is fear-laden and heavy. Greece is both a sweaty, sexualized playground and a site of fearful omens. The buzzing, screeching, humming digital reverb of the soundtrack renders it eerie, exciting and charged with unseen yet imminent violence. Sort of a David Lynch-meets-Britney Spears mash-up, the soundtrack recapitulates some of the visual thematic contrasts in the film. Digital and cassette feedback noise is mixed with catchy dance beats in a way that both excites and intimidates… The artists wed some of the bold sexual violence of Bruce La Bruce with a savvy understanding of popular culture and the pleasures of cinema, à la Kenneth Anger. Huizenga channels a bit of Carolee Schneeman in her use of her sexed body as a means of performing and criticizing cultural taboos. The film trilogy, if I might be so bold, is Meat Joy with lots of makeup.

Strategic film cuts and close-cropped focus are central to the technique of the artists’ work. Inspired, so they admit, by the Zapruder film of President Kennedy’s assassination, the artists have cut and focused on the juiciest details, sparing much of the broader panorama that they deemed superfluous: “The camera is meant to have an objective quality,” they suggest, revealing an investment in the scrutinizing gaze of the camera’s lens. The tension between the cold neutrality of the camera’s gaze and the heightened intimacy that it records is a crucial part of the viewing experience. The viewer is witness to a crime, an act of sexual violence that has been recorded and produced as a pop confection.”(Excerpt from text by Ryan Linkof.)

Enjoy their hardcore arcadia.

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