Jennifer Bornstein: Two Videos

Exhibition by Jennifer Bornstein
Image courtesy of Jennifer BornsteinImage courtesy of Jennifer Bornstein

This exhibition is in the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery of Byerly Hall at 8 Garden Street, Radcliffe Yard, Cambridge, MA 02138.

From March 5 through April 2, the exhibition will be open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m and on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

The movements and postures of the women in Bornstein’s video Untitled (2014) draw from Trance and Dance in Bali (1937–1939), a film by anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Filmed outdoors in the Balinese city of Pagotean, the Mead and Bateson film presents a metaphorical struggle between death and life. At the climax of the film, the clothed male and female Balinese dancers exhibit seizure-like trance movements. Although generally assumed to document a single performance, Trance and Dance in Bali is in fact a pastiche of several staged events, one of which was commissioned on the occasion of Mead’s birthday.

In Bornstein’s Untitled (2014), the performers are female and nude. The only notable feature of the video’s interior stage set is a fake dirt floor rented from a Hollywood prop company. The scripted movements of the performers refer to the original film but do not replicate them directly; the video uses the source materials as a starting point and mixes them with references to other, more contemporary forms of mainstream entertainment and erotica, such as female mud wrestling.

Made exactly 20 years earlier, the second video in the exhibition—Collectors’ Favorites (1994)—features Bornstein appearing as a guest on a Los Angeles television program, during which she showcases her collections of materials such as zip-lock bags, fast-food containers, and words. The video was recorded at a cable-access television station in Los Angeles and then broadcast for a decade after on late-night cable-access television.

Presented together, the videos, Untitled (2014) and Collectors' Favorites (1994), depict differences in technology and subject matter, but contain a common interest: ideas of performance or, in more current terms, the performative, in contemporary art.

Free and open to the public.

Image courtesy of Jennifer BornsteinImage courtesy of Jennifer Bornstein