The Moral Museum
Otis College of Art and Design, Ben Maltz Gallery, Los Angeles, California, January-March 2007.
This installation began as a critical examination of the popular 1946 Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life based upon the fact that Capra’s “Bedford Falls”–the film’s fictional location–was modeled after Seneca Falls, NY the birthplace of Women’s Rights in America.
Violet Bick, the “naughty girl” from the film, played by Gloria Grahame, became the hinge between the film’s “Bedford Falls” and the actual Seneca Falls. In Capra’s film narrative–stocked with hackneyed feminine stereotypes–Violet Bick offered the possibility for some type of feminist/historical intervention. This meant producing a past and future for Violet that went far beyond the diegetic space of the film to include people and events outside of its period and social constraints. The piece moves from the 19th century (Violet’s family history and that of the suffragettes) through the 1940s (Violet’s life in the film period) and into the 1960s and 1970s and beyond (Violet’s filmic future).
Building upon the physical past embodied in the main part of the exhibition and yet breaking apart from it, is a single screen video installation performs a site-specific function: commenting upon Capra’s Hollywood film and contemporary Hollywood much as the objects in the main exhibition engage in a discourse on Women’s Rights and Seneca Falls. The video consists of an interview and commentary by a fictional director, “Martie Novobatzky” concerning her new film, a remake of Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. The characters and content of It’s a Wonderful Life can be made to appear exceedingly radical as the film is updated.
All original music and sound by Sean O’Hagan. Download brochure: moral_museum_reduced