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Photography by Jamie Daughters.

No One Does It Like You

Fashion, fantasy and the futility of war collide in a cloud of choreographed carnage for Department of Eagles latest track, No One Does It Like You.

MoMa’s outer walls were breached by feuding armies of hooded terrorists and WW1 soldiers Tuesday night, as director Patrick Daughters and New York-based artist Marcel Dzama unleashed their new promo for Department of Eagles.  Blurring lines between commercial content and culture, the film meshes Daughter’s ability to create intricately choreographed visual spectacles in camera with Dzama’s paired-back, often stark scenes of simmering violence.

Pitting an anachronistic army of  clumsy soldiers against a group of elegant ballerina terrorists, the video pulls through elements of Daughter’s music video  for Feist’s 1,2,3,4 and the distinctive sculpture and diorama work at the heart of Dzama’s 2008 exhibition Even the Ghost of the Past at David Zwirner New York. Recurring images reference Dazma’s 2004 ink and acrylic painting Shoot the Moving and 2005 watercolour Eight Strong Winds, but the finished film sees Daughters inject Dzama’s creations with a form and movement that gives them new hypnotic power.

“I’ve been wanting to work with Marcel for a long time,” says Daughters. “We made a little digital film a few years ago with Spike Jonze called Sad Ghost. Not long after that Marcel and I came up with an idea for an Arcade Fire video that never happened.  I thought the Department of Eagles song might be a good opportunity to try again.  I sent Marcel the song and he liked it a lot.  So, we rolled around the idea until it grew into its present form.”  

No stranger to collaboration, Dzama helped found The Royal Art Lodge in 1996, a Canadian art collective that disbanded last year after launching the careers of artists including Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber. Dzama’s early works struck a chord with Daughters.  “Marcel’s art is not just visually beautiful, but also has a strong, fantastic narrative underpinning.  It’s not just a look but a whole world with (and often without) rules.  This is what makes it really easy to construct an idea with him.”  

The concept for the video, which started out as a discussion about ice skating ghosts with the Department of Eagle’s Fred Nicolaus and Daniel Rossen (also front man of Grizzly Bear), quickly began to morph once Dzama and Daughters started trading ideas.

“Marcel said the song sounded like armies on the march,” explains Daughters. ”We wanted the video to be violent but perforated with a kind of naïve aesthetic. This is squarely the territory of much of Marcel’s work - odd, sometimes brutal scenes rendered in a delicate, gentle style. So the armies needed to be of this world.  Then, we thought it would be nice to see ghosts coming out of the mouths of the dead soldiers.  The story became the following: As two armies decimate each other, ghosts rise out of the dead soldiers’ mouths.  Then all the ghosts dance together in the sky.”

MoMa’s PopRally event, which screened the Department of Eagles promo,  has attracted live performances from musicians like Chicks on Speed and talks from artists including DIY art-cult Paper Rad (see Dazed Vol. II #30). Championing new creative collaborations, MoMa has taken an active stance in breaking down the barrier between art and commercial projects, welcoming music promos into the fold and bringing new work to the attention of its loyal following of twenty-something supporters. As for Daughters, he says his motive with this project wasn’t necessarily to go crashing through high / low art boundaries, Kalashnikov in one had, camera in the other.

“That kind of meta-motive hadn’t occurred to me.  That may well be the implication but it wasn’t really by design.  It was much simpler than that.  That said, it would be wonderful if this video were to enjoy the kind of longevity and serious regard reserved for work typically referred to as ‘art.’  I don’t really sense a snobbery toward music videos on the part of the art institution.  The art institution may not readily warm to the music video as an art form for a number of reasons.  Most music videos aren’t that interesting.  Moreover, a music video isn’t a saleable piece of work.  If it could be made to have cult value and sold like art work, I’m sure you’d see any snobbery evaporate quickly.”

Patrick Daughters is represented by The Director’s Bureau
Marcel Dzama is represented by David Zwirner