Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake were a bicoastal pair of wunderkinds whose work (collaborative and separate) was tapped first by the powers-that-be in the NYC artworld (they were both featured in the Whitney Biennale--in different years), and next by Hollywood.
However, as a couple they descended into paranoid delusions of persecution which ultimately claimed both of their lives last summer. So why talk about this couple now? Because Vanity Fair just did an in-depth story on Jeremy Blake, which only awakened question of Theresa Duncan in my mind. Probably because death, especially by one's own hand is the ultimate act of deliberation; it is wholly undo-able. Unlike other debacles where one can rise again, and wipe off a scandal-tainted smudge, there is no returning from a bottle of pills or the undertow off of Rockaway Beach.
The above video is from Blake's piece, Winchester 2000 (based on the house built by the heiress to the Winchester fortune, a house she never stopped building out of penance for all the lives Winchester rifles had take--this topic was also of huge interest to Duncan) while if you click on the title link, it will take you to an animated movie (40 mins), The History of Glamour, that Duncan made in 1999.
Though both pieces are video works, they are hugely disparate: Blake's is like a collage come to life that bleeds in and out of conciousness; while, Duncan's piece though visual, relies on a witty and insightful narrative that elegantly skewers fame and the idea of glamour itself...long before the Devil dreamed of wearing Prada.
Both pieces are elegant elegies, even if they were made at the hight of happiness. The pieces are suffused with undertones of sadness and dissonance that in light of their creators' choices seem fitting...if nothing else.