Friday, July 15, 2005

Ann-Sofi Siden

I went to Mass Moca yesterday and saw some stuff I expected to see and some stuff I didn't but was really knocked out by the work of an artist I had never seen before, Ann-Sofi Siden.

Ann-Sofi Siden is one of thirteen artists included in the Mass Moca exhibit Becoming Animal: Contemporary Art in the Animal Kingdom, with a sort of mini-retrospective of one of her ongoing projects, a character called QM. Siden's Queen of the Mud Museum consists of at least sixteen different videos made over ten years, all of which feature the mud-caked nude Siden as the time and space travelling character QM. One video shows QM trying to buy perfume, another at an art fair looking for art to take into space, another shows the "origins" of QM. The best by far is a 28-minute feature film called QM, I think I'll call her QM.

QM, I think I'll call her QM starts with an older woman, a psychologist named Dr. Ruth Fielding, waking up and realizing that a mud-coated animal woman is under her bed. She coaxes/drags the creature out and most of the film is spent with her studying it. The creature woman, QM, crawls around in the dirt and never speaks. It's hard to tell how much time passes exactly. All the upstairs floors of Fielding's house are covered with brown dirt and she walks around in a dirty lab coat muttering into a tape recorder. She has a video camera over her front stoop and yells at kids playing outside. She covers all her windows with books. She seems crazy and might even be imagining QM.

Felding, played by Kathleen Chalfant, is based on a real-life psychologist named Alice E. Fabian who documented her own battle with madness through tape-recordings, journals, photographs, and wall-scribblings. She made photographs of photographs and had microfiche diaries locked in safe deposit boxes. Siden had made a number of seperate QM and and Fielding pieces before deciding to have the two meet in QM, I think I'll call her QM. I can't explain all this because it is ten plus years of two ever more convoluted projects which end up meeting in this one movie. I'm not sure why in some videos QM is so articulate and in QM, I think I'll call her QM she crawls around like a lizard - something about time and space and cosmic mud.

If you go to Mass Moca make sure you schedule enough time to spend with Ann-Sofi Siden's Queen of the Mud Museum, at least an hour. That one film is half an hour long and there is much more to the project. It's worth the time, probably my favorite out of all the stuff I saw today. I'll talk about some of the other stuff tomorrow.

Here's a Daniel Birnbaum article on Siden.


JL said...

I hate to admit it, but I was too lazy to spend much time with this exhibit when I was there a few weeks ago. What did you think of the other stuff on view?

Martin said...

In that show I also enjoyed Mark Dion's birdcage and Motohiko Odani's video.

Missed the David show though. Maybe early next week.