Soft Network Screening: Susan Brockman's Hothouse Flower (1978) and Yelena Yemchuk's Mabel, Betty & Bette (2021)
Presented with BROADWAY and Meg Lipke Studio (Ghent, NY)
Hothouse Flower (1978), 16mm film transferred to video
13 min., color, sound
Copyright Estate of Susan Brockman
Hothouse Flower shows women at work with images, writing or their body contrasted with visualizations of their subconscious — showing imagination and dreaming as part of their process. Compelling scenes of cutting film to make slides suggests the image stuck between glass and light may be the “hothouse flower” or is it the woman napping in the sun? Featuring Brockman’s close friend artist Kazuko Oshima dragging Brockman’s character’s limp body from the ocean, Geri Ashur and Elieba Levine. The film was partially funded through a grant to Women Artists Filmmakers.
Mabel, Betty & Bette (2021), 16mm film transferred to video
12 min, color, sound
Copyright Yelena Yemchuk
WHO IS THIS WHO AM I WHO ARE YOU?
By Sara VanDerBeek
Originally published in Yemchuk’s book Mabel, Betty & Bette published by Kominek Books, Berlin
Mabel, Betty & Bette is an exploration of the often elusive nature of identity. In this series of images and in the film of the same title, the female figure acts as a threshold between two worlds. Mabel, Betty & Bette explores female archetypes as both actual bodies and mythic spaces upon which projections of self and society fall. In particular, Yemchuk focuses on moments of change, crisis or loss of self as embodied by an expanding cast of over 50 women photographed in carefully chosen places that have charged artifice evoking both the familiar and bizarre. Yemchuk constructs and captures the amnesiac moment when the dreamer wakes; an intersection between parallel universes; the alarm and confusion that accompany the void between dreaming and waking. She has created three fictional women, Mabel, Betty and Bette. Each photograph portrays one of the three women as conveyed by a cast member in one of three corresponding wigs. These images are punctuated by collages exploring female archetypes of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Three different storylines written by the artist are personified by three sets of wigs worn by the different cast members. At the center of this project is a moving image work filmed in Yemchuk's native Ukraine, with the Ukrainian artist Anna Domashyna performing as all three characters.