Detouring with Traction: Mariah Garnett
Film program in the framework of the event series „Periphery“
Periphery is a multiyear event, research and exhibition series dedicated to the phenomenon of the “peripheral”. The program opened with the film series Detouring with Traction, which was curated by Kathrin Wojtowicz.
The connection between periphery and perspective is the starting point of the film series screened in five parts in cooperation with the cinema of the Historical Museum. What are possible perspectives on fringe areas and the purportedly clear distinctions between periphery and center? And how are questions regarding forms of coexistence, the construction and constitution of narrations, bodies or identities connected to this?
In the third part of the film series, three works by Mariah Garnett were shown – Picaresques, Full Burn and Encounters I May Or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin. In her films and videos, the artist calls into question binary notions of gender, narrative structures, age, time, and history, interweaving fictional and non-fictional material. In doing so, she dissolves conventional genres and breaks with the traditional hierarchies between filming and being filmed.
Picaresques (2011, 20 min) brings together three different protagonists: Based on the unbelievable accounts of the lieutenant nun Catalina Antonio de Erauso from the 16th century, Mariah Garnett seeks to re-enact historical scenes from La Monja Alferez together with Phoebe Lewin. While Catalina Antonio performs adventurous feats, Mariah and Phoebe are confronted with questions as to their appearance, their actions and ultimately their relationship to one another. The genre of the eponymous, Spanish picaresque novel, which traditionally thrives on the heroic feats of cunning vagabonds, is transformed in Picaresques to a story about outsiders within society.
In Full Burn (2014, 20 min), Garnett interviews traumatized U.S. veterans who are making a living in Hollywood. She shows stuntmen at work on the set and during their leisure-time activities, as well as an encounter with a massage therapist. The conversations about their experiences at work reveal parallels between the use of physical strength and the exploitation accompanying it in the military and in the movie industry.
By staging herself as the artistic persona Peter Berlin, Mariah Garnett deals with the star of the 1970s queer subculture in Encounters I May Or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin (2012, 14 min). Hand-painted 16mm footage in which the artist appropriates Berlin’s outfits and poses are followed by fleeting details of a mansion, fragments of lamps, fountains, porcelain dolls, and window displays. The anticipating memory of a potential meeting with Peter Berlin, who lives in isolation, results in an actual encounter in his apartment in San Francisco, where an exchange between generations takes place, with the two artists reflecting on their work with and in front of the camera.
Mariah Garnett, Picaresques, 2011, 20 min
Mariah Garnett, Full Burn, 2014, 20 min
Mariah Garnett, Encounters I May Or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin, 2012, 14 min
Mariah Garnett lives and works in Los Angeles. Her works have been presented at, among others, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast (Tate Network), the New Museum, New York, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the New York Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival. In 2019, Garnett was named a Guggenheim fellow in Film & Video. She has been teaching at the Institute for Visual Arts at the University of California San Diego since 2022.
Kathrin Wojtowicz is an artist based in Vienna. She works with sculpture, image and text and is interested in the relationships between social conditions, body politics and media. Her works have been shown at Halle für Kunst Lüneburg, Galerie der Stadt Schwaz/Tyrol, Sala Terrena/Heiligenkreuzerhof and in the exhibition space Schleuse/Vienna. She currently teaches at the University of Arts Linz.
Mariah Garnett, Picaresques, 2011, Courtesy of Mariah Garnett and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles
Mariah Garnett, Full Burn, 2014, Courtesy of Mariah Garnett and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles
Mariah Garnett, Encounters I May Or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin, 2012, Courtesy of Mariah Garnett and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles