THE MELANCHOLY CIRCUS
13 September – 8 November 2008
Praz-Delavallade is pleased to announce the fourth solo show devoted to the Los Angeles artist Marnie Weber. On this occasion she will present her multi-layered, inter-connected body of work embracing collage, sculpture, costume, video and music in both space of the gallery. By combining her own mythology of imaginary creatures,
animals and female characters in different mediums, she creates fairy tale worlds whose inhabitants are placed in dreamlike settings.
In her exhibition at Praz-Delavallade, Marnie Weber relates the most recent episode of her on-going series: "The Spirit Girls".The story follows a group of girls who perform together in a band, die tragically and then return as spirits to communicate their message of emancipation. This series was inspired in part by the American Spiritualist movement of the 1850's, which is credited with giving women their first public voice as "performers" in this country.
In this episode, the terrain of the Spirit Girls' journey is a surreal western landscape marked by a melancholy circus populated by strange characters wearing fantastical circus costumes. The resulting images reveal a childlike world of wonders with subtle and perverse undertones.
The exhibition's centerpiece "A Western Song" is a 24-min film project that melt classic western, surrealist experiment, expressionist drama, and contercultural elements, which narrates the journey of the Spirit Girls through their spiritual quest in the countryside. While the Spirit Girls' narrative has built a parallel universe in the realm of film, Marnie Weber's band The Spirit Girls has simultaneously given several live performances over the past few years. Most recently The
Spirit Girls have released a CD, titled "Forever Free", which explores the story of the Spirit Girls through music lyrics.
The historical precedents for Weber's work can be traced back to ancient allegories that stretch forth in the Western canon via Victorian fantasy, Romanticism and the Pre-Raphaelites to Surrealism, and on through twentieth-century pop, feminism, and post-modernism. Surrealism may be the strongest model for Weber's work, particularly those tendencies of collage that rose from the Dada period and found their way into Surrealism via the joining together of dissimiliar and often bizarre imagery.
The self-contained world she creates is full of fairies and strange apparitions that transform the mythical American landscape into a child-like and Surrealist place. The emergence of sexuality and the image of feminine beauty as well as ugliness and cruelty are among the founding elements of this unique body of work.
"If the Surrealists sought to disturb viewers by displacing expectations, Weber is their legitimate heir - especially to the rare women like Meret Oppenheim, Frida Kahlo and Lee Miller. More immediately, she has taken her place beside peers Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley, with whom she is both colleague and friend. Weber provides an authentically feminized alternative to their testosterone-driven art." (Hunter Drohojowska-Philip, Artnet magazine May 2007)