Monday, October 29, 2007
Calgon, Take Me Away
I suppose art that makes you want to puke is better than art that stirs up no feeling at all. [Insert here your favorite truism about indifference].
That said, Alex McQuilkin’s video installation entitled “Joan of Arc” at Marvelli Gallery had me literally throwing my arms up in despair. The two-channel piece juxtaposes scenes from Carl Dreyer’s seminal 1928 film rendition of the martyr’s story with images of the artist pouting unconvincingly into the camera and shaving her blown-dry locks.
Watching a white, privileged woman – with the power of art success to bolster her – comparing herself to one of history’s most legendary persecuted figures is a reflection of American arrogance, unawareness and downright stupidity.
The press release suggests that McQuilkin (at age 27) yearns to validate adolescent angst, especially in the face of condescending adults (like myself). Her goal, it seems, is to represent her suffering – through imitation, through theater. What she achieves, however, is the opposite. She comes of as a shallow fake.