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Psycho Nacirema

Douglas Gordon Portrait of James, 1966.

Douglas Gordon Portrait of James, 1966.

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Press Release

  • James Franco presented by Douglas Gordon: Psycho Nacirema

    6-10 Lexington Street, W1F 0LB

    6 June – 27 July 2013

    Pace is delighted to present Psycho Nacirema, an exhibition featuring multi-media installations by the American artist and actor James Franco and presented by the Scottish artist Douglas Gordon. Psycho Nacirema will be on view at Pace London, 6-10 Lexington Street, from 6 June to 27 July. It will be Franco’s first major exhibition in the UK.

    Psycho Nacirema presents a mise-en-scène of director Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller Psycho, remodelling the infamous Bates Motel where the intrigue of the film takes place, intertwined with the 1920’s Arbuckle scandal.

    The artists first collaborated on the Rebel constellation, a work presented at the Venice Film Festival, in September 2011 and on Rebel, an exhibition presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2012. In these works, Franco acted as a producer for Gordon, while in Psycho Nacirema Gordon has acted as a curator and teacher for Franco.

    In Psycho Nacirema, James Franco uses the motel structure as both a physical and literal framework, reinterpreting iconic scenes from the original film through evocative details such as the motel neon signage or the infamous shower room where the film character Marion Crane, is murdered. One of Gordon’s most well-known works is 24 Hour Psycho (1993), a projection of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film slowed down to last an entire day which also sparked inspiration for the exhibition.

    Franco’s installations heighten the psychological entrapment set out by Hitchcock, beckoning the audience to become a participating character within the plot. Split Marion, 2013 a diptych mirror installation, prompts the viewer to join the artist to gaze and be gazed upon, projecting themselves as the characters of Marion Crane and Norman Bates. Compelled to identify with them, the audience is forced to recognise their own neurosis and psychological inadequacies generated by the silver-screen.

    Psycho Nacirema makes numerous trans-historical juxtapositions. Principally using Hitchcock’s film as a starting reference, Franco twists it together with the real-life scandal of Fatty Arbuckle, the Hollywood star and first one-million-dollar paid actor charged with the death of the American model and silent film actress Virginia Rappe in September 1921. The Arbuckle case was filled with murky evidence and media speculations which shed a harsh light on the cinema industry..

    Franco’s fascination with the subject leads to the final room of the exhibition. A four-way projected film which shows the re-enactment of the scenario that supposedly took place in Room 1219 where Arbuckle was found with Rappe who was mysteriously injured and distressed. Marrying the Psycho thriller with the Arbuckle scandal, the exhibition performs interplay of reality with fiction, compelling the viewers to address how cinema is entrenched in the modern collective consciousness.

    “Film is the medium that employs all art forms, but it is contained within the screen. We take this multi-form idea and pull it through the screen, so that the different forms are once again fully dimensional and a new nexus of interaction and significance is created. In this show, we go back to the original locations and images of Psycho and alter them so that once again the viewer's relationship with the material changes. One becomes an actor when interacting with this work. Film becomes raw material and is sculpted into new work.” James Franco, May 2013.

    For press inquiries, please contact:

    London: Nicolas Smirnoff, / +44 203 206 7613.

    New York: Madeline Lieberberg, / +1 212 421 8987


On Tuesday 2 July from 9pm to 10pm, at Pace London, 6-10 Lexington Street, James Franco will be signing copies of his new book Moving Pictures / Moving Sculptures: the Films of James Franco. Please note that: - to gain access and meet James Franco, guests much purchase a book. Books will be available from Tuesday 2 July from 10am at the gallery. There will only be a limited number available. - Access will be on a first come, first served basis, and queuing will be necessary. - The price of the