Same But Different

February 2020

Derek W. Clem curates his inherited bootleg DVD collection

Press Release:

While saving up for medical school in Los Angeles during the 1980s, my step father worked as a bodyguard to various celebrities and as an extra in films and television. During the 90s and aughts we would rent movies, go to the movies, and sneak into movies together. After trips to Chicago to manage some of his rental properties, he’d reliably come back with a stack of bootleg DVDs waiting for me to sift through. Movies were one of our strongest connections.

Since his unexpected passing in 2012, a facet of my cinema centered studio practice has shifted towards processing his death through making artwork related to our conversations about his time in Hollywood and our shared experiences with movies. I want to keep movies as one of our strongest connections.

Same But Different is an installation containing a portion of my late stepfather’s bootleg DVD collection. After his passing, the bootlegs were moved from the entertainment center and placed in a low-level room in the basement of the home he and my mother lived. When I conceived of this project, the room was flooded. I wanted to keep my socks from getting wet, so the DVDs included in the installation are those that were within reaching distance from a dry area of the room.

In addition to the installation, and it’s making, functioning as a way for me to continue hanging out with my step father beyond his life, Same But Different is also an examination of consubstantiality and deviation between related, yet different material. From each bootleg to the multicolored pennant banner, the work in tends to create conversations surrounding the understood identities of object sand subjects and how they exist culturally, as well as the commonalities and disparities in relation to their visual formal qualities. The societally accepted, commercially produced versions of the films I want considered when viewing the work aren’t present. It’s my hope that viewers draw upon their own experiences and memories to create comparison. I’ve often related my work to conversations found in a video store – the installation, on a surface level, somewhat strengthens that relationship to a more semi-literal direction.

Artist Bio

Derek is a multimedia artist residing in Champaign, IL with his wife, twin toddlers, and kitty. He holds an MFA in Painting and Drawing from Illinois State University, an MA in Painting and a BA in Sculpture from Eastern Illinois University. The basis of his studio practice stems from his personal ritual of watching at least one movie every day, a habit that started very young for Derek. Hook (1991)is Derek's all-time favorite movie.

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