Museums at Night 2013: David Blandy's Biter: Hip-Hop and Freud at the Whitechapel

By Emily Beeson | 17 May 2013

Museums at Night Report: David Blandy’s Biter, Whitechapel Gallery, London

a spoof cover featuring David Blandy superimposed over Ghostfacedkillaz
© David Blandy
In the darkness of Whitechapel Gallery’s auditorium an image of Freud’s study is projected as the phrase, ‘Where id is, there shall ego be’ appears. Seconds later, another quotation fades in, blending into the letters of the first. It reads, ‘Egos is something the Wu-Tang crush’.

Comissioned by ArtsAdmin Jerwood, with considerable aid from the Freud Museum, Biter is a short film created by David Blandy.

Shot on location in Freud’s office amid an unblinking collection of classical and Egyptian artefacts, the artist delivers line after line of Hip-Hop verse to the psychoanalyst’s unoccupied seat.

Biter explores the stream of consciousness at the centre of a therapy session, a raw self-expression of identity. Blandy suggests that Hip-Hop possesses a directness and subjectivity together with a strong expression of personal anxieties that mirrors the Freudian concept of unconscious projection, of Ego and Id.

Speaking lines from Ghostface Killah’s, All That I Got Is You, the artist weaves a striking portrait of individual struggle, inciting visceral connections to what he considers to be deeply humanising instances.

He explains in the Q&A session following that "Hip-Hop is a folk music that utilises language to explore fantasies and aspirations". This desire for ascension lies at the root of therapy, so where better to project it than Freud’s loaded workroom?

An aspect of the genre’s gritty, lyrical portraits of humanity are appropriated by Blandy and become part of his character. Though there is laughter from the auditorium as Blandy sighs into the carpeted floor of Freud’s office and bellows, ‘Brooklyn Zoo!’

"The words deserve attention", says Blandy who explains that in projecting fragments of remembered Hip-Hop verse into Freud’s analytic space; many I’s conflate and create an art form from many threads of consciousness. “I’m keeping it real”, he says.

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