By Haley Weiss Published November 1, The filmic works of artist Moyra Davey hold the intimacy of a letter—inviting one in, as though offering a personal encounter—while maintaining a scripted distance. But her sharing is measured. It wholly embraces the snapshot aesthetic.
Still from Les Goddesses, Always aware of the inevitable end, she has constructed a practice conscious of its own past and reliant on radical self-doubt.
Her photographs, films, and essays cross-reference and depend on one another as she makes a subject of her own process and its intentions, fears, and failures. Davey has published twelve artfully designed books that lovers of her work covet for their rarity.
Davey emerged in the eighties, in an art world allergic to the confessional work she was making. She pins the prints to the walls of her apartment where they function as visual footnotes in a monologue dealing with family and disappointment. Davey often portrays herself in her New York City apartment, within reach of any bookmarked volume in the crosshatched piles on her shelves.
Her writing is weighted by reverence for other artists, writers, and filmmakers, whose quotes moyra davey writing a letter her paragraphs. They were made years apart—Les Goddesses in and Hemlock Forest in I tell the story of my sisters and myself when we were debauched teenagers.
They got pregnant before marriage, they ran off to France, they lived as free spirits. Bringing the two stories together began with these fabricated coincidences of dates, for instance. By linking my family stories to the Romantics, I grant them a different kind of valence. Then, two or three years after making Les Goddesses, there was a tragedy.
I began to wonder what would it mean to revisit the story of Les Goddesses, in light of this fatal overdose, and not to show us as cute, fearless punks from the early eighties, but as we are now, visibly scarred women in our fifties and early sixties? What does our reckless behavior mean now, in light of what happened to Hannah?
Still from Hemlock Forest, Hemlock was commissioned by Bergen Kunsthall in Norway, a country Wollstonecraft traveled to and wrote letters from in I chose an image of the forest to represent nature and for the social it was the subway.
I did it with a camerawoman, Liz Sales, and then I found out the next day that Akerman had committed suicide on the day of the shoot.
That coincidence redirected the whole project and made me delve back into reading Akerman, listening to her, watching her films again. She was someone who had been a big influence on me when I was younger. I realized in my work that I have to push myself to do the things that unnerve me. Hence this huge feeling of relief, triumph, even, when you go out into the world and manage to produce something meaningful.
Pictures Generation artists were refusing to photograph actual women. They rephotographed photos of women, or dolls, or turned themselves into archetypes, like Cindy Sherman. Do you see it that way? Were you thinking about that when you revisited the photographs of your sisters from the eighties?
I fold and mail my photographs for exhibition rather than frame, crate, and ship them. Repurposing an existing image from decades past abets this strategy. I live with a collector, someone who has zero fear of acquiring objects, even huge ones, like stadium speakers.
You so often photograph and film the apartment and all of your possessions and books collecting dust.
I always read it as a portrait of your lifestyle and imagined all the objects were yours. In the late nineties, I edited a book called Mother Reader just after my son was born. That book cemented my relationship to literature and was very instrumental in my trajectory.
But with speakers and tube amps, among the many things the artist Jason Simon, my husband, collects, all I can think about is this is stuff that will outlive you. Nonetheless, this separation had an urgency for me and I wanted to talk about it, even if it did feel very awkward.
You have to play with proximity and distance in the writing, in the portrayals, in the address, in the way you shoot something.Quinn Latimer on Moyra Davey’s films, photographs and writing.
MOYRA DAVEYThe new book, called Les Goddesses Hemlock Forest, So there is a lot of play on “letter” both as graphic symbol and epistolary missive. I’ve said this before, but the epistolary is one of HOT BATHS / COOL LETTERS Q.
LATIMER Les Goddesses, .
Moyra Davey (born ) is a Canadian visual artist. Over the past three decades, Davey has built an increasingly influential body of work composed of photographs, writings, and video.
Over the past three decades, Davey has built an increasingly influential body of .
Moyra Davey It’s a line that I came across when reading Hermione Lee. She was writing about writers at the ends of their lives, and the whole dilemma concerning private papers.
She was writing about writers at the ends of their lives, and the whole dilemma concerning private papers. Moyra Davey — Ultimately I probably write to forget, to vacate certain things from the psyche.
A sense of being on set, even, for viewers of Moyra Davey’s Les Goddesses, particularly strong when one sees in the back bedroom two bikes and a low mattress, on which Davey leafed through her early photographs in that book-length video. In Les Goddesses / Hemlock Forest, published by Dancing Foxes Press and Bergen Kunsthall (), Moyra Davey presents two texts that served as the basis for two videos of the same names, produced in and regardbouddhiste.com from the videos and related photographs are thoughtfully interspersed throughout, providing a crucial visual accompaniment to the writing, which moves fluidly. On a recent sunny Saturday, the photographer and writer Moyra Davey took her Nikon camera (35 mm, no zoom) to the Trinity Church Cemetery’s northern .
But also to connect, and to play. That was the counsel of a very wise poet/writer friend, and it’s the thing I always try not. to forget. Moyra. P.S. And thank you for the Edmund Jabès.
The filmic works of artist Moyra Davey hold the intimacy of a letter—inviting one in, as though offering a personal encounter—while maintaining a scripted distance. Hemlock Forest (), which recently premiered at La Biennale de Montréal’s “Le Grand Balcon” .