Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sandi Dooley reviews "Diffuse" and "Conquer", by Stephanie Patton, #2

On March 11, 2014, I visited the McNay to view the Diffuse (2008) and Conquer (2013) video exhibits, by Stephanie Patton (b. 1969). This exhibit is an example of performance and installation art, using photography, sculpture, and video.

In Diffuse, she is literally "walking on eggshells" in a pair of white pumps. One can hear the deafening crunching as she steps through a room. According to the plaque describing the exhibit, "This video reflects the anxiety that accompanies the desire not to upset or provoke unwanted behavior in another individual". She created a stage for making the video by preparing the blown-out eggs (nothing messy was visible) and leaving the shell intact. After preparing the stage for months, she documented the action in only one, continuous recording. 

In Conquer, she has completely covered her face, ears, and neck with bandaids. She based this work on the metaphor to "rip off the bandaid", and removes the bandaids in the video, one by one, leaving visible red marks on her skin. She is very methodical in doing so, and the process is not pleasant to watch, even though she is completely silent. Perhaps this uncomfortable state is deliberate, as it is in real life. The plaque states, "In the pursuit of grasping and overcoming painful emotional and physical experiences, this action encompasses the act of dealing with the short-term pain involved, but then moves to a place of relief, healing, and ultimate growth". I found myself hoping for a big smile when she was done, but instead she had a pleasant, neutral expression, reflecting the reality that things may or may not move to a place of relief, healing, and ultimate growth. 

Patton lives and works in Lafayette, Louisiana. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a Master of Fine Arts in photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has also studied in other areas, such as vocal and comedic performance, and has exhibited her work nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions.

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