ARTFORUM March/April, Time Out London March/April, Contemporary isue 61
ARTFORUM: (London Critic's Picks)
Maria Bustnes’s The Girl Band Project: Chilimango (Paint it Black), 2001, is a two-part “rockumentary” whose subject is a teenage girl band from Lund, Sweden. Projected in the main galley space, Part 1 shows Chilimango’s slightly wooden but perfectly tuned rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.” In Part 2, the members discuss their motivation and experiences: An all-female band entering a male-dominated field, the girls are nevertheless devoid of feminist aspirations, saying that their music is about having fun (though insisting that they are a serious rock band). Playing covers of songs by predominantly male groups – their influences include Rage Against the Machine and Nirvana – the ladies choose their material according to “what feels right.” Coolly detached in demeanor and curiously lacking the characteristics one might expect from a rock band – such as signs of rebelliousness, sexual awareness, and stage presence – this is hardly Chicks on Speed. But given that the girls are all between fourteen and fifteen years old, I suppose they might be forgiven for now.
Time Out London:
Chilimango is a teenage girl band in Lund, Sweden who, with dedication rare at such an age, practice at least twice a week and occasionally perform live. In her video ‘The Girl Band Project: Chilimango (Paint it Black)’, Maria Bustnes documents them performing the Rolling Stones track ‘Paint it Black’. Aged between 14 and 16, the girls obviously take it seriously, but their efforts are a far cry from the raw sexuality of the original; aiming for accuracy rather than expressiveness, they ploddingly regurgitate the notes. Dressed casually, in a way that their parents would approve of – no knicker flashing or fashion statements – they are obviously not a Grrrrr! Band. An accompanying interview confirms their naivety when it comes to music and, indeed, creativity. They talk in terms of covering songs ‘if they feel right’; these tend to be chart-toppers from the ‘60s, even though they may consider them ‘rocky’.
Although Chilimango are unlikely to change music history, you can appreciate the liberal atmosphere that supports their endeavours. There’s an interesting parity between maker and subject – band and cover version; Bustnes’s documentary is as perfunctory as Chilimango’s performance.
Whatever else we have to thank Kelley’s generation for, it’s unlikely – although she probably won’t thank anyone for saying so – that without it we’d be seeing art like that of Maria Bustnes, which uses rock culture as a prismatic through which to view dynamics. For her first London solo, the young Norwegian stages The Girl Band Project: Chilimango (Paint it Black) – a work from 2001 that takes the form of a staged pop video and interview with a prepubescent girl band from Sweden. Considering our fascination with the aesthetics and harnessed energy of youth culture, it apparently asks ‘What are the conditions that make the girls’ activities possible, and how has the band achieved impressive results in such early age?’ Are you listening, Simon Cowell?