looking glass(es) (lost; Stella)

Lisa Birke

2013, 12:40 minutes, colour

TAPECODE 1051.10

The heroine in “looking glass(es)” is entrapped in her wooded theatre. She dashes manically from side to side visibly carving out a clearing or stage. In the ever-so-brief glimpse of our subject’s face the viewer’s expectation is sabotaged. Our heroine is wearing glasses; she has stolen the gaze. Yet in a humorous twist, we see that eyes have been painted onto the lenses and are literally blinding our subject. “Looking glass(es)” questions agency of looking and seeing.

As the action continues, the lowering of the woman’s hand-held mirror initiates a moment of magic as the scene fragments and an inverse video appears within the first. This fragmentation continues until there are five inset videos running concurrently but out of synch. This effect implies a broken mirror or Alice’s rabbit hole, but it also references the painter Frank Stella’s
Tomlinson Court Park. Stella’s paintings challenged illusionism and the materiality of the painted space. In a similar way “looking glass(es)” deconstructs time and space and plays with our expectations of tropes and signifiers. This moves the work out of theatrical mimesis and acknowledges the image as social and mythological construct.

2 versions: 12min 40sec and 7min,
digital video loop, 2013.

*Part of the 6 channel installation
Pictures in an Exhibition (1051.13).

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