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.