Sunday, October 16, 2005

I had to go back and see the rest of Candice Breitz's show at Sonnabend this weekend as I had somehow completely missed both Mother and Father. This isn't difficult to do as it's dark in the room and you can't see that there's another room, and then once you're in Mother, it's entirely possible to miss Father, which is in another room off of that room. But I did see it, and I wasn't disappointed, having, as I do, an obsession with mothers and their portrayal in drama and film. Here, Breitz puts popular representations of motherhood to great affect. And she doesn't simply re-portray the roles, she fragments and collages, forcing meaning to emerge in shifting images. It's so disturbing to watchthe women parade through all the usual tropes: victim mother, evil mother, goddess mother, selfless mother--mother as abandoner etc. Streep (Kramer vs. Kramer), Sarandon and Keaton are great, but it's the bookends of Dunaway doing Joan Crawford and Shirley Maclaine doing Shirley Maclaine that nail it.
Here we have Maclaine doing her worst. She really comes off, as does Crawford, as a kind of raging drag queen, at once narcissistic and vengeful. More on this...

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