Ode to the Muses is a two-channel video installation, originally presented as projections on two adjacent walls. The video is set in a make-shift “boudoir” tableau—an image in reference to 18th century nuptial paintings. Through the content of the piece and the tensions between desire and sustained discomfort, the work is meant to explore the interstice between courtship and isolation; pleasure and pain, as well as the female artist’s relationship to the history of artistic creation. The piece was initially inspired by the Roman scholar Varro’s idea of the three Muses: one identified as the human voice, the second as the action of striking the air, and the third as the fluidity of water.
The opening scene depicts an environment veiled by a translucent white screen of sumptuous textile. This veil is one that simultaneously veils and obstructs: through its veneer, a dim image of the female body is perceived. Through sustained inaction, the presence of body creates an abstraction of narrative time. This stillness is broken only by the rapid blinks of the body’s eyelids, a reaction to the persistent dripping of water into the eyes. This dripping functions as an imposed penetration into the eye of the figure—resulting in a sort of reverse crying. Within the duration of the side-profile clip, there is a short moment that catches they body overtly reacting to this agitating stimulation by rubbing the eyes—a rupture in the temporal void.
The action resumes a perpetual stagnation for the rest of the clip as a narrative voice, disjointed from body, recites the fragments of erotic poetry by Archilochus. The recitation of the inflammatory text is brutal, yet told in a soft, effeminate voice—resulting in a dissonance of content and texture. The primary audio sample is a recording of a sustained body of text (only known from its fragments). Woven into this narrative are fragments of other Archilochus works, with words that align with words being read from the predominant text. This, in a paralleled relationship with the pictorial techniques of the moving image, creates a rupture in the narrative space of the piece—as aural niches—by contrasting the infinite drone that the piece begins and ends with.
In this work, the body is presented as an object of the gaze, but in a way that deactivates desire. The angles used are aesthetically composed, but present the body as something that fluctuates as something between vulnerable and strong—unnamed yet possessing identity.