ROUND-UP March 27-April 16, 2018

For this round-up, I interviewed Laurie Simmons about her new movie My Art for PopMatters, wrote about my feelings about Quentin Tarantino and Inglourious Basterds for Lilith, and checked out the new show Victoriana Reimagined at the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in Germantown for Artblog! Enjoy!
"One of the more curious elements of My Art is the thematic similarities among the films Simmons chose for Ellie to work with. With two Marilyn Monroe movies and a movie about a man's love for a mermaid thrown into the mix, a story-beneath-the-story that Simmons is telling about gender comes into focus. In Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948), which Ellie recreates with competing suitor John, 'the message is very much this dream of a perfect female who is mute and childlike and loves you unconditionally.' And Marilyn Monroe's mythic appeal functions in a similar way—the consciously-created version of Marilyn who was na├»ve and un-intellectual, that still has people underestimating her skill and finesse as an actor to this day. Simmons similarly likens the 'malleable, beautiful, fragile' persona of Marilyn to her own series about Japanese sex dolls [The Love Doll, 2009-2011]—that invoking of the ideal woman, 'a silent mermaid'."
"Aldo Raine provides the excuse (and the means) for the Basterds to unleash their rage and fear in the context of righteous fighting. Tarantino, by writing and directing Inglourious Basterds, creates the context in which the Basterds exist, and provides Jewish watchers with an embodiment of that ultimate violent fantasy: Jews killing Nazis, and, specifically, a Jew killing Hitler. This reading is a perfect encapsulation of the dangers of loving a work of art, and identifying its politics with that of its creator: because Inglourious Basterds resonates with me so intensely, I obviously want to assume that Tarantino is a genius, a champion of the oppressed. (I have often joked that Aldo Raine demanding “One! Hundred! Nazi! Scalps!” is now my standard for people who call themselves allies to the Jewish people.)"
"Victoriana Reimagined, the new intervention at Germantown’s Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, is another example of how contemporary art in a decidedly non-contemporary space can not only delight the eye, but also encourage the viewer to think more deeply and critically about the relationship between past and present. The three artists featured in Victoriana Reimagined — metalsmith and jeweller Melanie Bilenker, painter and sculptor Jacintha Clark, and installation/paper-craft specialist Talia Greene — each chose an aspect of the elegant nineteenth-century house as inspiration for their own work. In turn, each of their works draws attention to, and aims to pull apart, many of the myths surrounding the Victorian era as we understand it, drawing connections between the Victorian era and our own contemporary moment."