3 Missed Calls ‘ Beware the Curves

It was funny. But how many times can you repeat the same joke? In Cameron Platter’s third solo show, 3 Missed Calls, his now familiar cast of colourful, tough-talking characters return.

It was funny. But how many times can you repeat the same joke? In Cameron Platter’s third solo show, 3 Missed Calls, his now familiar cast of colourful, tough-talking characters return. This time round, smaller animations from earlier solo exhibitions The Love is Approaching (2003) and Life is Very Interesting (2005) are drawn out into a feature length film. Beware the Curves premiered on the big screen at the Labia Cinema for one night. As with any well-planned blockbuster, the merchandise was released beforehand.Platter’s exhibition opened a week prior to the screening. The installation is a three-dimensional equivalent to his jerky, Southpark-inspired, editing style. Props and characters from the movie were presented as roughly hewn wooden sculptures. The crudely carved forms, coated in thick layers of bright acrylic paint, echo the artist’s rudimentary animation techniques. These wooden pieces insult natural proportions. A car is smaller than a suitcase. There is a cigar the size of a small tree trunk. While the sculptures could be overgrown action figures from Platter’s film, the selection seems random. A minor Gogo Cat is on display, while the heroine of the movie is absent. The works lie on the floor in a layout carefully composed to resemble the radius of an angry child’s cot. All of the above departures from convention are clearly intentional and in line with the general lack of good manners that prevails. Even the abrasive smell of wet paint on opening night seemed fitting.As in his other shows, Platter’s aesthetic choices appear to be taking on the stereotypes of so-called ‘traditional African art’. At a quick glance, the wooden sculptures presented here are the right size, method and material to be mistaken for the tourist curios sold at nearby Greenmarket Square. The new medium serves to emphasise stylistic issues that were previously a subtext. Clues towards these debates are in the film where, once again, John Muafangejo is a character. The final battle is played out at Rorke’s Drift. In contrast to the sculptures, Beware the Curves seems to be one of the rare occasions where Platter has lost his sense of proportion. The movie brought to mind the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan (1998), except in the latter the relentless bombardment only lasted for the first 15 minutes. Platter’s doomed characters take a very long time to die. After a while, the electronic background music gets annoying. There are moments where one can’t help smiling; the inflexibility of movement during sex scenes reminds one of children experimenting with Barbie dolls. A movie entitled Beware the Curves is being made within a movie by the same name and it is embedded with a mind-altering microchip. Clever, but the relentless length and repetitive visuals were cruel punishment for a fickle art audience forced to stay in their seats until the bitter end. It is unclear whether this was on purpose. To my mind, smaller snippets of the same plot, minus the greater narrative and soundtrack, as seen in works like 5 Easy Pieces (2003), seemed more successful. The film industry, in which Platter’s other foot is firmly placed, may well disagree.Overall, this is pleasing work (The spaceship looked fantastic on the back cover of this magazine). The inexpertly jiggled naked ladies do not offend, they charm. This is not necessarily a good thing. The artist/director has now set up a signature style that blends popular culture and personal playground with a couple of solid art references thrown in for good measure. The last few years have been a fun ride of seeing the same characters reappear to dishevel a variety of traditional mediums. But this has all now become formulaic. The work needs a new angle to get back to being fresh and edgy. The title of Platter’s show holds a warning – I will listen more carefully.
{H}