In I am a Revolutionary we see the
artist undergoing a presentation skills training session with
her own personal trainer. Within the stage-like environment
of an empty office space, its glass wall offering a cinematic
view onto an atrium of architecturally epic proportions, we
can see other office workers immersed in their business day
in identikit cell-spaces. Young and her teacher work hard at
perfecting one line from what appears to be a larger speech
intended for an unknown audience. Young is having great trouble
with the line - "I am a revolutionary" - words which
could equally come from heroic 'business leadership' rhetoric
as from the words of political or anti-globalisation agitators,
equally as it seems also to refer to the legacy of the avant-garde.
Repeating the words again and again in a series of fruitless
attempts to sound credible, Young tries to internalise the message
so that it becomes something she personally believes. To her
trainer, the words seem unproblematic, as if they are just another
message that can be spouted to an audience like any other within
the realm of popular or political culture.
Referring to the iconography of Joseph Beuys, especially his
lecture-based works, I am a Revolutionary presents
Young and her trainer in a somewhat pathetic quest for a 'radical'
position. The work refers to the ways in which modes of dissent
have become increasingly commodified, with Che Guevara's face,
for example, a familiar icon on tshirts or advertising hoardings.
It seems there is no 'outside' left, no clear position for critical
distance that is not soon incorporated back into the flow of
capital around the globe. I am a Revolutionary points
to this in a cyclical sense: the artist and her helper appear
suspended in a continuum of repetition, effort and belief that
change may be possible.
The trainer featured in this work is Alisdair Chisholm of Marcus Bohn Associates.