Whispering Pines is also presented as part of Art Pop (September 26 to 30, 2018).
In 2002, Shana Moulton created her alter-ego and avatar, Cynthia, the hypochondriac and agoraphobic protagonist of Moulton’s ongoing video and performance series, Whispering Pines. Named for the mobile home community where she grew up near Yosemite National Park, Whispering Pines employs the spectacular natural landscape of California as a backdrop to dramatize the daily rituals and routine that comprise Cynthia’s search for purpose and fulfillment, health and happiness.
Enacted in virtual solitude, Cynthia’s quest for a harmonious union with her home and immediate environment invokes the West Coast hippie counterculture’s fantasies of total liberation while gesturing to the degeneration of 1960s and 70s utopianism into quackery and consumerism. Sheltered from society, clad in an endless series of frumpy-yet-cozy loungewear ensembles, and surrounded by crystals, salt lamps, yoga mats, exercise balls, and New Age objets d’art, Cynthia experiments with home décor, self-help, and cosmetic therapy while kaleidoscopic video editing levitates and transports her through multiple dimensions.
Both sympathetic and satiric, Whispering Pines walks a fine line between irony and sincerity, kitsch and nostalgia. Often playing off unexpected connections between avant-garde aesthetics and their vernacular variants (Minimalist synthesizer compositions and spa soundtracks, early video art special effects and instructional exercise programs), Moulton sketches situations that are comic, contemplative, and surreal. While these collision of spirituality, pop culture and consumerism appear vibrant and whimsical, darker themes of escapism, uncertainty and isolation pervade each video episode and live performance. Journeys into Cynthia's subconscious often yield only more personal crisis, channeling the neuroses and disembodiment of the technology-enhanced, post-spiritual world.
Moulton is part of a generation of artists – including Cory Arcangel, Paper Rad, and Ryan Trecartin – drawn to a maximalistic exploration of the recent past’s cultural detritus. Unlike Arcangel and Paper Rad’s youth subculture ephemera and Trecartin’s obsession with the language of reality-TV celebrity, however, Moulton’s references skew towards artifacts associated with nature and the elderly. Whispering Pines, while often awkward, uncomfortable, and psychedelic, is more bucolic than brash.
This body of work has come to incorporate video installation and interactive, multimedia-performance, often in collaboration with other artists, authors and composers. Whispering Pines 10, the long-awaited continuation of the celebrated video series, is a cross-platform opera created with composer Nick Hallett (who appears in the videos, along with vocalists Daisy Press and Katie Eastburn) that exists in varying iterations between the stage, the museum and the handheld screen. In the live opera, Moulton interacts with video through choreographed movement and motion-sensitive, body-mapping technology, accompanied by Hallett’s original musical score and libretto. The video portion is adapted from this opera, which was developed at The Kitchen, Harvestworks, and the New Museum, and subsequently toured art museums and performance festivals across the US. Phase I, its first sequence of videos, was recently presented in New York. For this exhibition at Centre CLARK, her first solo show in Quebec, all the episodes of Whispering Pines 10 – including new instalments – will be presented as a multi-channel video projection on a sculptural installation.
– Saelan Twerdy
Music and libretto by Nick Hallett
Cynthia - Shana Moulton
Psyche - Daisy Press
Julia - Katie Eastburn
Luna - Nick Hallett
Score recorded, mixed and mastered by Jeff Cook
Pauline Kim Harris, Jeanann Dara (strings)
Shelley Burgon, Jane Yoon (harp)
Ana Matronic (glass armonica)
Peter Hess (bass clarinet)
Nick Hallett (keyboards, electronics)
Filmed at The Tulip House, Bass Lake, California
Shana Moulton is a California born and based artist who works in video, performance, and installation. Moulton has had solo exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Fondazione Morra Greco, Kunsthaus Glarus, and a retrospective of work at The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. She has performed and screened videos at MoMA, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Performa 2009, The Kitchen, Art in General, The Andy Warhol Museum, SFMOMA, The Hammer Museum and Cricoteka, among many others. Her work is distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix and she is a featured artist on Art21’s New York Close Up.
The artist would like to thank Creative Capital, Nick Hallett, Daisy Press, Katie Easton, Craig LeBlang, as well as Roxanne Arsenault, Corine Lemieux and all the Centre CLARK team.
- SHANA MOULTON
SEPTEMBER 7 TO OCTOBER 13, 2018
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 5PM - 00PM
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, AFTER 8PM
ARTIST TALK /
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 3PM