what to do when harmony korine spams you
Belgian art trio Leo Gabin have turned Korine’s debut novel into a film, after an email from the director ended up in their junk mail folder.
A young girl writhes on a couch in jean shorts. A car burns rubber in a cul-de-sac. Three friends rehearse a dance routine in their living room. After finding an email from Harmony Korine in their spam folder, Belgian art trio Leo Gabin mined social media sites for clips like these to build the film adaptation of A Crackup at the Race Riots, Korine's 1998 debut novel of a similarly haunting, intimate, and scatterbrained variety.
The three men behind Leo Gabin — Lieven Deconinck, Gaëtan Begerem and Robin De Vooght — began making art together after high school over twenty years ago. Although they don't hide their identities from the media, Deconinck, Begerem, and De Vooght prefer to speak as one artistic mind. "We consider it a trio that makes work rather than a group or collective of individuals," Leo Gabin explained. Known for its abstract paintings and video projects, Gabin made perfect sense as a partner for Korine from the start.
"The way [the book] is composed, there's no linear structure and no linear narrative," Gabin said. "It's absurd, funny, sad at some times, but it's also very poetic. And that's the same quality we look for in images."
After Korine sent the trio a personal copy of the novel (they had tried in vain to order it online to Belgium in the 90s), they got to work on the first part of the film in 2012. Although it's not explicitly mentioned in Crackup, Korine told the trio that the book was set in Florida, and that served as their starting point. Still, Gabin chose to delay any physical trip to the "Sunshine State" until after the movie had been completed. "Sometimes it's better to have an idea that's not the truth."
Recently completed and clocking in at just under one hour, the three-part found footage movie made its US debut on Monday night at Elizabeth Dee Gallery in Chelsea, in a small black box theater build specially for the opening. Oscillating between disturbing and hilarious, the film presents a unique portrait of youth culture, as seen through the lens of social media. "Once you go into that underbelly where people are posting absurd things — like films of their backyard, or neighborhood tours…then you start to notice something beautiful in those images," said Gabin.
A Crackup at the Race Riots is on show at Elizabeth Dee until March 28.
Text Clarke Rudick
Photography [The Q+A Issue, No. 324, Spring 2013] and courtesy Elizabeth Dee