Tracey Snelling’s Woman on The Run will transform the Street Level Gallery at 21c Museum into another time and place by intricately mixing architecture, scale modeling, video, photography and 3-D story telling with a heady dose of Hollywood glamour and Hitchcock-like built-in suspense. A multimedia project, Woman on The Run explores a fragmented narrative about a fated woman. The main character, a combination of heroines and femme fatales from 1950s and 1960s film noir, is trying to escape her fate. A crime has taken place, and she is wanted for questioning. Throughout the installation, different clues are given about what might have happened and who the woman is. Is she the victim, or the perpetrator? A study in feminism or an example of outdated ideas?
An alternate world of shrunken buildings, neon signs, and a life size motel offer a selection of clues that conspire to initially draw the viewer to the action and then help them thread together the disconnected story that just happened. The viewer quickly becomes a witness and to some extent an actor within the story, often assuming the role of a detective. Video plays in windows and conversations can be overheard. Reality becomes based more in perception than in absolutes. The blacks and whites of life shift to grey, and the truth becomes shrouded in mystery.
The installation of Woman on The Run was organized by 21c Museum as part of an ongoing series of solo exhibitions that highlight individual artists represented in the 21c collection. Part of the exhibition will be traveling to the Frist Center for Visual Arts in 2011. Woman on The Runwas originally commissioned by and shown at Selfridges in London during Frieze Art Fair in October 2008.
Snelling lives and works in Oakland, CA. She was recently one of 13 artists chosen by the Sundance Institute to be presented as part of the 2010 edition of New Frontier at Sundance Film Festival.
Driving down the street at night, I look at the lit windows of the houses that I pass, and I wonder who lives there. What is going on right at this moment behind that curtain or darn shade? An old motel along the side of the highway sits broken and abandoned. I want to know the stories of the people who stayed there, the history of the people who owned it, and why it is no longer inhabited. Better than sifting through true stories for an interesting one, I prefer to make up the profiles of the inhabitants by leaving subtle clues that can be interpreted in many ways.
Often overlooked and neglected buildings suddenly become the focus, receiving the attention they deserve. Weeds growing in concrete cracks and an old piece of trash are not things to avoid, but rather they are details to pay attention to.
Influenced by film, landscape, books, and architecture, the structures reference both pop culture and history. A photograph of an actual building can lead to a sculpture of that building, which in turn, is photographed once again. Scale continually grows and shrinks in my work, mutating and distorting each time. The psychological aspects of shelter, ‘home’, doors, windows, etc., allow me to explore many subjects on another level.
The structures are made from various materials, including wood, appropriated images, luminescent wire, small lights, and metal. Some contain sound, water, or motors for movement. The structures are photographed with a large format camera; the insides of the rooms are sometimes lit with flashlights. Often, the sculpture is blended into the outside environment, using similar camera techniques to those utilized in old films, such as “The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman”. Scale is played with by printing the images large. A small scale object, such as a beer bottle, can end up being normal scale in a photograph. Sound tracks and video are sometimes incorporated, using both original and found footage.