Happy Days (after Beckett)

Lisa Birke

2014, 10:00 minutes, colour, English

TAPECODE 1051.16

Taking its inspiration from Samuel Beckett’s existential play “Happy Days,” this quintessentially Canadian version sees a woman slowly disappearing into a mound of snow (rather than sand). The durational work is a metaphor for the paralysis and mythologizing of the aging female protagonist in cinematic space. Here, the viewer witnesses the subject’s lack of agency result in a stoic, yet frigid, demise. A seemingly endless shopping list of household goods remains the only testament to her existence. Simultaneously humorous and morose, the work probes the powerlessness that women can feel in negotiating expectations of femininity in reality and as mediated through mythology, theater and on the screen. The work is an ambiguous rumination on life and experience that is simultaneously extraordinary and mundane.

(When installed in a gallery space the sound of the spoken shopping list emanates from within a white purse placed in the middle of the gallery in a spotlight.)

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