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Eileen Maxson 
Distance Education
February 6 - March 21, 2004

In her recent work, Maxson’s main concerns are issues of spectatorship, and roles that people adopt in an effort to bridge the disconnection between themselves and others. Using character studies, she confronts the division between reality and illusion by deconstructing those facades, along with investigating the repercussions of catching, out of the corner of your eye, the myth of the illusion. While her goal is to make contact with her audience Maxson struggles with how to do that, recognizing that her grand ideas of communication and duty and purpose (as an artist, as a human) fail when it comes down to it—discerning how entrapped she is in the process. Pushing on, Maxson explores modes of survival—ways to create distance to make connections easier because the only other alternative is to give up. 

Tackling these concerns in Distance Education, Maxson’s first solo video installation, she creates a dark room containing a set for a televised distance education course. The scaling is wrong—the bookshelves and podium, seemingly tall and pristine, collapse upon closer inspection. Various journals and encyclopedias in shades of green and gray are in serial form, but a closer look reveals that the books are movie titles. The titles are collected from people whom the artist is connected/disconnected to: a person she only knows through email, an introverted cousin, and a drifting friend. The props are orchestrated around an invisible axis—the frame of the camera. Outside of what is visible to the camera, the shelves are empty or have random objects. Facing the set is a bench, with two video monitors hung from the ceiling. The left monitor depicts the set while the monitor on the right plays a lecture by Maxson’s invented character, Professor Catherine Poplar, "Existentialism and Stephen King: The Artist’s Role in Society, According to ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, 1994. Directed by Frank Darabont; 142 Minutes/Rated R". The professor, however, is never able to give the lecture, because her address to a silent audience is plagued with technical disaster.

Video Still

 Book Shot

Installation Shot

Video Shot 



cactus bra space, san antonio, tx
an artist run alternative art space