For the past 14 years, Georgina Starr has created a diverse body of work using video, film, animation, photography, music, writing and performance. She continues to explore the relationship between history and memory. Attempting to extract meaning from collapsing realities, she makes complex and obsessive investigations into invisible, lost, or fragile phenomena.
In this exhibition, Starr focuses on the nature of performing and performance in the public and private arena. After spending a year revisiting the lost film performances of silent screen actress Theda Bara, Starr began to reflect on her own performances in her work, in her `real’ life, and also those of her mother which absorbed her as a child growing up.
Using Kobo Abe’s 1960’s novel about loss of identity, expression and shame The Face of Another as a guide, her exhibition like Abe’s book is divided into chapters, The Grey Room, The White Room and The Black Room. The Grey Room THEDA (Prelude) is a 12 minute video in which Starr performs as Bara. In a single-shot filmed performance, the artist runs through a series of codified expressions akin to the silent era performer. As the rhythm of the performance takes hold, it seems as if her face is being held hostage by the gestures and expressions she is trying so precisely to communicate, transforming what at first appears to be an acting exercise into a moving portrait of artist and actress.
The White Room
The Face of Another shows an image of the artist that is spliced together with an old photograph of her mother as she attends a dinner dance in the 1970’s. The uncanny resemblance of the two smiling faces gives the image a particular quality. The framed typed text which accompanies the photograph, like a half remembered letter or confession, discloses the truth behind the performance played out by her mother in the photograph, highlighting how our identity is both beyond our control, and constructed by the gaze of others.