Feature

I have Come to Disappoint You: Michele Sibiloni’s “Fuck It”

By Brad Feuerhelm on March 31, 2016

” Its tick-box approach to images, the title, the cover, the text within capitalize on the “rough” Ugandan nightlife and seems very much directed at a Deutsche Bourse Prize/ Magnum/ Western White latte audience”.

I usually start most of my reviews with a literary metaphor. I feel to do so is to examine the book in my own time and headspace and then I can reflect on what I want to take away from it, not necessarily what I want the audience to know about it. Sometimes a book crosses my desk and I get pangs of excitement for the writing that I can pull from it… it is a feeling of reciprocity between the artist’s vision and the way it makes me feel to creatively review it. This, in large part is one of the joys of reviewing books. This is not one of those times.

My issue with Michele Sibiloni’s “Fuck It” for Edition Patrick Frey is that it feels overly manicured. Its tick-box approach to the images, the title, the cover and the text within capitalize on the “rough” Ugandan nightlife and seems very much directed at a Deutsche Bourse Prize/ Magnum/ Western White latte audience over that of the people within the book or towards any sense of investigative journalism, which could polemically suggest a cultural production insisting on white voyeurism and post-colonial malaise by saleable product standard. If this were not Uganda, it would not radar. This is something we should perhaps speak about. There are plenty of parties, people getting wasted globally. Is this to contend that Ugandans should be any different? If so, why are we targeting this difference? I have seen this vision all of my creative life, which spans over two decades. This is the “hidden revealed” or the “youth gone wild” card. I am fatigued with it. It fits the Dazed and Confused epidemic and should not be confused with anything but the superficial. That is not to say the photos or the images themselves are not well shot: they are. Edition Patrick Frey is noted for their high-quality and interesting projects. It is one of the few publishing houses that spreads over art, photography, collage, film, etc and handles all with the same bravado. With this project, the feeling is the same on the object front, but my criticism is rarely about the format or production valuation of the object.

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@ Michele Sibiloni

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@ Michele Sibiloni

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@ Michele Sibiloni

”Don’t misread me. I do not want to pigeonhole Africana, but believe me: I don’t want it treading in the backwaters of American entertainment waste product either”.

Further, the text by David “ I’m not even a gay rights activist” Cecil offers a bit of a ham-handed attempt of hard-boiled eclecticism found in the pages of pulp 50’s and 60’s American Literature; Jim Thompson, Hubert Selby Jr., a bit of Hunter S. Thompson, perhaps a smattering of Travis Bickle’s Taxi driver rant…

“All the animals come out at night – whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take ‘em to Harlem. I don’t care. Don’t make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won’t even take spooks. Don’t make no difference to me”. –Travis Bickle.

“Street-walkers, good-time girls, vagabonds, village fools, rastas, pimps, drunken expats, drunken locals, drunken everybody, underpaid guards, overworked bouncers, old-timers, orphans, urchins, beggars, hoodlums, hustlers, grasshopper vendors, all kinds of cops, NGO workers and back-alley exorcists. Some Peace Corps blogger once described Kabalagala – Kampala’s most deliciously sleazy bar district – as ‘Tijuana on acid’.- David Cecil

This glossing-over effect of the text and the possibilities within the images really make a cinematic/beat literary adage to the project that is unnecessary and paints the mise-en scene of the concept into a dirty corner where it cannot get out to let the audience ruminate. It is claustrophobic and it feels very much like a pirated sixth generation copy dvd, but I’m sure the text will look good on The Photographer’s Gallery Walls when it itself is tick-boxed into “Africa” for the 2017 DB Prize… the problem repeated.

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@ Michele Sibiloni

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@ Michele Sibiloni

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@ Michele Sibiloni

“It is claustrophobic and it feels very much like a pirated sixth generation copy dvd, but I’m sure the text will look good on The Photographer’s Gallery Walls when it itself is tick-boxed into “Africa” for the 2017 DB Prize”.

Again, the book and the text feel manicured and directed to the point where I have to question what post-millenial Western exports of the military economic entertainment complex have been doing to the streets of Kampala and further what this business of globalization is heralding to the last vestiges of nation-hoods on the African continent. Don’t misread me. I do not want to pigeonhole Africana, but believe me: I don’t want it treading in the backwaters of American entertainment waste product either. What I am getting at with this book is that it is overly clever and well made to suit a system that panders to an audience outside of its inception. It is just that I don’t really believe it. If you can take the book for what the images are without committing to post-colonial etiquette that would have Frantz Fanon spinning in his grave, you will be rewarded. I am hereby investing my energies in the title alone…

Edition Patrick Frey
Fuck It
Michele Sibiloni

(All rights reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @ Michele Sibiloni.)

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