Shana Moulton
Sand Saga, 2008
Video, colour, sound, 10:32 min
Courtesy of the artist and Broadway 1602,
New York

Shana Moulton



Invited by Raphael Gygax (curator, migros museum für gegenwartskunst, Zurich)

»Sand Saga« (2008)

In her videos and her performance works, the artist Shana Moulton makes use of humour to investigate the interaction of consumption, commercialised New Age philosophies and borrowings from other art movements and artists such as Mondrian and the influence theosophical thought had on him, Georgia O’Keeffe’s later works, or Land Art.

The narrative videos, interspersed with psychedelic sequences and reminiscent of the video aesthetics of the late 1970s and 1980s, were conceived as a series under the heading of »Whispering Pines« (2002 until today). The title »quotes« the holiday resort of the same name in the San Joaquin Valley in Central California, an idyllic township close to nature. Meanwhile, the project, conceived on a large-scale, consists of more than ten episodes (»Sand Saga« being the ninth part in the series), in which the avatar, Cynthia, – who must at the same time be seen as the artist’s alter ego – plays a hypochondriac and bored housewife. In a way, she can be understood as the antithesis to a vivacious, go-ahead female figure, such as Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, who never tires of pursuing her own »redemption«.

It is not only through the main protagonist in her domestic setting, but also through the chosen format that Moulton taps into the narrative concepts of soap operas, thereby transferring this popular genre into the context of art. At the same time, Moulton continues the tradition of experimental film and its protagonists such as Maya Deren, who became known for her circular ways of narrating, inter alia in »Meshes of the Afternoon« (1943). In those moments that illustrate Cynthia’s world of imagination – toppling as it does time and again into the psychedelic – a »migration of form(s)« frequently occurs too – forms, characters and motifs from the »high« of an already established art history begin alternating with the »low«, the »rubbish« of media and sub-culture.

Text: Raphael Gygax

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