Derek Clem: Bodyguard Binge

Exhibition: Friday, October 26th from 5:00-7:00 pm

You know how you want to make a dessert for people you love? How do you do this for someone who’s passed? Since the unexpected passing of my stepfather, Byron, in 2012, a facet of my studio processes have shifted toward themes of mourning, reconnection, and tribute. I felt a deep urge to make something for my stepfather; something to express my love and to honor him and his unique life. I can’t make him a dessert; he’s not here to eat it.

While saving up for medical school in Los Angeles during the 1980s, my stepfather worked as a security specialist/bodyguard to various celebrities and as an extra in films and television. While growing up I tried to bring these stories up as often as I could with him. His life in Hollywood and movies in general were some of our biggest conversation topics. Renting and going to the movies was one of our most frequent activities.

Since I can’t make him a dessert, I made him a movie franchise - The Bodyguard Franchise. This film series is an exaggerated account of his experiences working in Hollywood. I don’t make films for this franchise, but instead focus on making artifacts and objects that share relationships with naive fan art, film marketing and memorabilia, and film criticism. The making process creates a reconnection point with my stepfather. The objects, like engravings or flowers on a headstone, memorialize his life as well as aim to provide an access point to encourage playful world building or mental screenwriting by the viewer.

Derek W. Clem is a multimedia artist residing in Champaign, IL. He and his X-Phile wife, Elisabeth, are currently expecting twins. He earned a BA and MA from Eastern Illinois University in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and an MFA from Illinois State University in 2010. The foundation of his studio practice comes 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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