Tape #3 1974-1975

1974-1975, 9:15 min, b&w, sound

Taking cues from Edgar Allan Poe, Harry Houdini, and William Wegman, Maughan applies a faux-confessional storytelling style to themes oriented around Romantic and Symbolist literature—and lurid B-movie adaptations thereof—in this macabre tape. In its first two pieces, The Magician's Cabinet and Frozen and Buried Alive, an unremarkable piece of rotted wood and a large cloth sack become the center of sensational narratives evoking death amid the turn-of-the-century popular arts of illusion and escape. In Baskets from My Wedding, the subtle, haunting qualities of the narrator's story of her wedding day come to the fore as the title objects are stuffed with dead flowers. Taking Medication is an unsettling performance piece in which Maughan, naked below the waist, head just out of frame, sits perpendicular to the camera, swallows pills, and begins to cough, conveying the uncanny sense that this supposed cure is at the root of its own ailment.

Cynthia Maughan

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