Article by Amanda Alfonso
Interiors could be called a multi-faceted exhibit reflecting the artist herself. Within two separate rooms at the Frye Art Museum, Amie Siegel – a New York-based artist – displays a solo exhibition of films. Entering the first room, you witness a 16mm film projection of a woman roaming around multiple locations where she passes and stops to pose with sculptures. Polaroids are displayed with her next to each sculpture, smiling into the camera like a tourist. It’s an introduction to themes touched on in the following film projections Provenance (2013) and Fetish (2016).
It’s clear that the exhibit is mostly about objects and the value that we as art consumers, put on them. Provenance, to put it simply, shows us the process in which modern furniture comes to find a home – starting first with being stripped apart, then remade, then sold, then displayed like a piece of artwork itself. What’s most striking about the films are its subdued nature. There’s something affecting in the way Siegel uses dolly shots to show a piece of furniture’s final home – or contrasting them with their original location – cutting at one point from the bare frame of a couch, to sitting completed in a white-walled office. Provenance is shown in a series of projections so that the audience is aware of the process – and I definitely found myself fascinated by the idea of cultural value – and what we deem as valuable. In the last stage of Provenance, I was taken aback; Siegel shows the work you are witnessing in the moment, being auctioned off – and you’re suddenly made aware of your whole viewing.
Fetish touches on a similar subject and is probably more overt. The film shows a man in white protective gloves delicately dusting a series of miniature statues from different countries. He does it with such care and patience – and lasts close to twenty minutes to a half hour. Fetish has a slightly amusing and cheeky feeling to it, possibly because there seems to be a reference to the connection between valuable objects and the way women are seen in society. Siegel does a clever thing of cutting quickly to an old illustration of a woman being auctioned off. In the illustration, a man grips to her tightly to make sure she doesn’t run off – and you can see that the sleeve of her dress is falling from her shoulder. Just like the chair being stripped bare and remade to be housed in a place of luxury, it was a moment of both shock and revelation.
For fans of both art house films and multimedia arts, Amie Siegel’s work will expand your mind and surprise you in the subtlest way. While it might require a bit of patience for those not used to watching art films, it’s definitely worth the time. The Frye Art Museum is free and also includes a great house gallery of paintings owned and acquired by the museum founders Charles and Emma Frye.
May 20-SEP 3: Amie Siegel: Interiors – Exhibition | Frye Art Museum