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The Reeler Blog

The Passion of Alex McQuilkin

Still from Alex McQuilkin's Joan of Arc, which you probably missed (Photo: Marvelli Gallery)

By S.T. VanAirsdale

Green Cine Daily points us today to the latest edition of The Brooklyn Rail, in which contributor Thomas Michelli has a terrific review of Alex McQuilkin's Joan of Arc. I'd heard about this but dreaded seeing it -- I blame my own prejudices in part, but I've test-driven McQuilkin's videos around the Marvelli Gallery's Chelsea block once or twice, and her aestheticized, au courant self-awareness has never exactly been my thing.

Michelli begs to differ, however, particularly considering McQuilkin's latest; with McQuilkin semi-mirroring Maria Falconetti's searing physical presence from The Passion of Joan of Arc in a split-screen installation (and, yes, shaving her head), the 27-year-old artist has pulled off something special:

McQuilkin’s work has been cited as emblematic of the morbid narcissism of her generation, and again, on the face of it, her attraction to St. Joan seems to be more of the same: an intractable teenager (Joan was 19 when she was executed on May 30, 1431) destroyed by her refusal to accommodate a compromised and corrupt world, otherwise known as adulthood. ... Joan’s allegiance to truth brought every kind of holy hell upon her head. Perhaps McQuilkin’s empathy with Joan is something more than merely “copying/imitating someone else who seems to fully inhabit herself” [as McQuilkin explains in her artist's statement]. Perhaps she is asking how she would measure up when put to the test.

Alas! Unless you were there, you'll never know: The exhibition ended Nov. 24. Thanks Brooklyn Rail! You tease.

Posted at December 17, 2007 10:07 AM

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