Artist: Moyra Davey
Venue: Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia
Exhibition Title: Burn the Diaries
Date: September 19 – December 28, 2014
Full gallery of video, images, press release and link available after the jump.
Moyra Davey, My Saints, 2014, HD Video, color, 31 min.
Images and video courtesy of the artist and Murray Guy, New York
ICA presents a new body of work by Moyra Davey based on the artist’s recent reading of Jean Genet. The act of reading has long been integral to Davey’s work, which is full of images of books; however this is the first time Davey has ever made a book specifically for a gallery installation.
Moving between photography, writing, and film, Moyra Davey’s highly personal and methodical work draws deeply on the form of the essay. Her art interprets and critiques her own experience as an artist through a generous frame of literary, philosophical, and cultural references, drawing as well on objects, memories, and even dust. Assembling a rich variety of texts, Davey uses them as the materials from which she constructs an almost romantic yet decisively biting point of view.
Technically an artist’s book, Burn the Diaries is a modestly scaled paperback comprising two texts (one by the artist, the other by writer and translator Alison Strayer) and an array of photographs. The centerpiece of the gallery installation, the book is surrounded by photographs that have been folded and sent, like letters, through the mail. Tabs of colorful tape mark the unfolded prints, which are push pinned to the walls. Davey’s new thirty-two minute film, My Saints, is projected in an adjacent space (furnished with a comfortable couch). Structured around a series of interviews with friends and family members about their reading of a passage in Genet’s A Thief’s Journal, the film’s underlying subject is the crime all artists commit in stealing time and experience to create their work.
In keeping with a whole history of women artists who have worked at home, the simple and straightforward installation is an abstraction of domestic space, as well as of Davey’s own studio. This paring down focuses and concentrates our experience as viewers, and helps make us readers of Davey’s art.