By Michael DeForge
What would it be like to live in the shoes of a celebrity? Would it be a dream come true or would it become a nightmare of sorts? In Michael DeForge’s Stunt, a stuntman has a deathwish, and he finds his soulmate in the man for whom he doubles.
A stuntman tries many ways to commit suicide but is unsuccessful. After his shoot ends, Jo, the movie star, offers him a job he cannot refuse: became Jo’s full-time body double off-camera and perform the tasks that Jo does not want to do. At first the stuntman enjoys the attention he receives for being a celebrity, and pretty soon he’s living Jo’s life to the T. But the excesses of the glamour life take on a dark twist until truth and reality become indistinguishable.
DeForge’s amorphous figures of the stuntman and his double become nearly indistinguishable from one another. The elongated and exaggerated limbs, long a hallmark of DeForge’s work (Leaving Richard’s Valley), melt and blend into each other as the stuntman begins to lose sense of self. The disorienting, blurred lines DeForge uses as the two twist and turn through panels becomes symbolic of the intertwining of identities and take on a more sinister tone and urgency as the story progresses.
DeForge seems to be making a statement about the price of fame, the celebrity as commodity and the celebrity as poster child for self-degradation and self-destruction.
“Using someone else’s likeness, someone else’s body…it emboldened me to go above and beyond in service of humiliation, degradation,” writes DeForge. The stuntman is all too willing to engage in deceit as a means to an end, even if what he is commanded to do will ultimately end in his demise.
At its very heart, Stunt is a chilling reminder of how we lose ourselves when we strive to become the very essence of those celebrities we admire and emulate.