A video installation, Exhibited Gallery Titanik, Turku, Finland
This idea is born primarily from my interest in the schizophrenic representations of female sexuality within our popular culture, be they sexy, alluring, shameful, horrific, dangerous, infantile, crazy, excessive or out of control. I am referencing the figure of the 50 foot Woman, which is now a cliché in itself. The dual representations of this figure as being scared and scary, possessing a powerful sexuality while also being possessed by it, being self-pitying and vengeful, is interesting to me because this is a representation of the excessive woman, born from the questions continually raised through a glut of representations. The ‘monstrous feminine’ whose anger, distress, sadness, shame and sexuality has made her something to be feared. It also lends from the King Kong cliché of the ‘other’, come to attack a world that has no place for it or cannot contain it.
I approached the video as a performance piece, where I tried to play out a range of female roles that we know well. Angry and vengeful, coquettish and girly, drunk and tantrum throwing. I was thinking of different female figures from Pamela Anderson, to Paris Hilton to Linda Blair in the Exorcist. I wanted to make my look excessive, pushing the cliché to its banality. So it was necessary to have big blond hair and a shiny red torn dress.
The video that we see “through the window” in the first space, uses the same look of big blond hair, but it looks like she could be naked. This is meant to be “sexy manufactured”, but also excessive. Viewers may be titillated or laugh at this woman in the window or both, but they are not threatened by her. It isn’t until they enter the destruction of the next room, that they realise what has been created.
I am performing a figure dripping in cultural agenda, while never absolutely answering itself except for the lone cry at everyone: “I Warned You”.
People enter the first part of the space, which has been sectioned off by a wall. On the wall is a video monitor with a blond woman, looking out of the screen in an overly sexual way, enticing viewers into the screen/other room. In the other part of the exhibition space is a giant woman towering over a small city scape which is half destroyed. The giant woman is a video projected onto a thin surface, which cuts through the city, hanging from the ceiling to the floor. The miniature city is part of the installation, not the video. Buildings have crumbled, and lights flash in the interiors of the destroyed city.
Perilous, Pliable, Projected. Catalogue essay by Philip Brophy
Just as no amount of hi-tech wig design and fast-cutting stunt-double trickery could save John Travolta and Nicolas Cage in Face/Off (1997) from appearing like your dad doing bad kung-fu tumble-rolls at the local petrol station, no amount of digital posting could ‘de-impress’ the wire work supporting Angelina Jolie’s lithe latexed body in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). While dumb American’s insist on their pre-fabricated ‘dreams’ being ‘utterly realistic’ in the vicarious script-doctored nocturnal emissions screening in their collective cine-consciousness, they seem consistently blind to the material reality of the poseable doll-like figures parading as heroes and heroines in their cine-dreams. Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft looks like a suburban secretary who has recently bought a Gloria Estefan Best Of CD doing rock-climbing on a hens’ night organized by 11 year old boys masturbating to secret camera footage of Angelina’s antics. Like all pliable idols, she does not strike a pose like Madonna: she is incessantly posed, held in place by World of Warcraft-playing slobs with bad breath who excrete their hi-tech compositing in cramped offices doing out-sourced work for major Hollywood studios.
Those guys – like the audiences who drool over the likes of Angelina – would probably laugh at the ‘B-Grade’ effects in seminal 50s movies like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) without realizing that they are ‘future-fitting’ ‘B-Grade’ fare for future generations (or for those of us who thought The Matrix was crud when it came out). The saving grace of the idol/figurine projected into fantastic movie scenarios – especially when their situation is utterly impossible – is that they can reveal the material reality of their production while implausibly emoting a reaction to their un-actual situation. Allison Hayes in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman looks like a 50s housewife on valium, slowly moving with vague motivation, never being clear on her actions and never convincingly destroying anything in her reach. She lunges like in a waking dream, half there, half-somewhere else. The cardboard around her wobbles in slo-mo; the slo-mo camera work prevents her from speaking, rendering her as a mysterious maternal mute of America’s post-war somnambulism .
Cassandra Tytler’s I Warned You highlights these schisms of unconvincing projection combined with delusional intent – particularly as depicted by the lineage of perilous Paulines acting melodramatically in non-threatening situations. As Cassandra beckons, cajoles, stomps and admonishes, we wonder what we did to anger her. What is this world of hers in which we are implicated? Well, if you can’t work that out, it’s your problem: you were warned.
Philip Brophy May 2011