“thebritisharecumming”: Performance Art on Youtube
YouTube, an integral part of the internet, is known for its cats, self-proclaimed stars, and viral videos, but what about art? How can performance art exist next to “Fallout 4 Gameplay?” Far removed from the comforts of museum halls and gallery walls, competition for viewers is steep, and then to further tap into the right audience to build a following, proves even more difficult. But it’s this counter-intuitive decision, to utilize YouTube as the sole platform, that makes Paul Kindersley’s channel, thebritisharecumming, so remarkable.
Yoga videos, soft-core porn and make-up tutorials, the bare-bones concepts behind many of Kindersley’s homemade videos are not unfamiliar to YouTube, but what causes them to stand out is his unique artistic perspective. It’s a continous satiric commentary on present society’s quirks; materialism, spiritualism, sexuality, nothing is left untouched. While his videos are indulgent in that quintessential British wit, there’s always an underlying sense of authentic appreciation for the subject; he twerks to Nicki Minaj, because he respects Nicki Minaj. Yet despite his impressive ability to rap a la Nicki, it is Kindersley’s make-up tutorials that still rake in the highest views, and as views are the currency of the internet, it’s these videos we should discuss.
Whether it’s “Quick N’ Subtle,” “Air Hostess,” or “The Only Way is Essex” look that you’re after, Kindersley can serve all your needs. He’ll mention products to use and show you the best techniques, step-by-step, with ease and grace, but that’s where the YouTube community commonalities drop. For instance, while his make-up looks are decidedly female, he himself is not some photogenic female, but a man with impressive facial hair and no shame in hiding it. Then there are the final looks themselves with endless glitter, unnatural foundation, exaggerated eyebrows and lips, one screen shot will make the art part of the video all too obvious. They are caricatures of beauty standards and their subscribers walking on the street, while unrealistic, these faces are reflections of a very close reality.
These videos boast views from a couple thousand to over ten thousand, which, at first glance, is mighty impressive. You can imagine a large room filled with individual representations of these views and you feel claustrophobic, but that same room is easily dwarfed by the city of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” viewers. Why would an artist chose to enter such a brutal ring of competition? Accessibility. The population of people who don’t visit YouTube is a continually smaller minority, and unlike physical galleries where logistics can get in the way, anyone with internet can stumble upon your work. Perhaps it would just be a view of happenstance and they never watch another video, but they did see it, and with videos like Kindersley’s, they are bound to talk about it. While views may be the currency of the internet, people talking is the currency of the art world. YouTube may just prove itself yet.