Primetime

Gallery 1

Primetime (2001) in Gallery 1 places us as a protagonist within the most quintessential of all American TV chat shows, Jerry Springer. We enter the installation through a 'backstage' area which houses a tower of five TV monitors announcing and alerting us to the perverse range of subjects under discussion. Walking into a stage like space we are then confronted with a wall of over thirty TV monitors showing edited images, sounds and text sequences from the show that we approach up a centrally placed ramp. The viewer, immersed in an intense experience of sound and image, is in effect inside the chat show itself.

Facing the monitors is a large screen projection of the talk show host with two assistants, each of which is played by Melhus himself. This projection reduces the chat show to its elementary parts: the repetitive address of the host to his audience, we love you, interspersed jingles and the rhythmic bleeping of swearing and obscenities. A sense of tension and climax is created via this tempo. A structure of confession, judgement and repentance is exposed as merely a format.

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