Selected Video Works presents four videos by Mariah Garnett made between 2010 and 2014. These works represent the early cornerstones of her experimental documentary practice. In all four films, the relationship between subject and filmmaker is foregrounded, calling into question the power dynamics at play in representational art practices.
“Garbage, The City, And Death” uses a Fassbinder text to reframe a real-life relationship between long-lost siblings as a romantic rivalry. It was Garnett’s first attempt to mix theatricality with a real relationship between herself and her subject.
“Picaresques” takes its inspiration from Lieutenant Nun, the autobiography of a transgender conquistador at the turn of the 17th century as its inspiration and abruptly becomes a portrait of Garnett’s own friendship with a 9-year-old tomboy from Santa Monica. It is an attempt to look to the past and future for heroes of a similar gender to the artist’s own.
“Encounters I May or May Not Have Had with Peter Berlin” moves through phases of idolization, anxiety ending in a touchdown in reality in a conversation between the artist and Berlin himself. This is the first film in which Garnett used impersonation as a strategy for representing her subject.
Finally, “Full Burn” marks a shift in Garnett’s practice away from overtly queer themes to the geopolitical. It is a portrait of four U.S. war veterans who have continued to use their own physicality to earn a living, three as stunt men and one as a massage therapist. It is a meditation on masculine duty, trauma and re-enactment.
Mariah Garnett is an artist and filmmaker who lives and works in Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. in American civilization and an M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts in film/video. In 2019 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Film/Video for her feature film, Trouble, which premiered at the London Film Festival and was named one of the best documentaries of the year by Sight + Sound. Her work has screened and been exhibited internationally at venues including The New Museum, The Hammer Museum, Tate Belfast, REDCAT, SFMoMA and her exhibiting gallery, Commonwealth + Council. She is a MacDowell Fellow, and her work has been featured in Bomb, Artforum and Reverse Shot.