ARTFORUM: EILEEN MAXSON AT MICROSCOPE GALLERY by JULIANA HALPERT
Nothing kills a joke quite like repeating it, and Maxson cleverly plays upon Reality Bites’ strained affect of coolness by bestowing it with the studied zeal of a teenage fan. The film yearned to cultivate a metanarrative that could escape the materialistic dead end of mainstream ’90s culture, and Maxson is adept at playing upon the contradiction of its own manufactured discontent. Does the VHS tape she clasps in her hands hold the power to conjure generational ennui? Her subjects don’t have to explain irony; she has already shown us for them. [PDF]
GLASSTIRE: IN CONVERSATION WITH RISA PULEO
Risa Puleo: Your exhibition includes an installation, New Releases, that depicts the ghost of a Blockbuster movie store. In one of your new videos, Unwrapping Reality Bites on VHS, you unwrap a sealed VHS copy of Reality Bites while summarizing it: an absurdist way to “show” us the film. On one level, the exhibition seems to be an exploration of the physical spaces and materials of image media: the video store, the movie theatre, the VHS cassette tape, etc.
Eileen Maxson: One thing I’ve thought about is how using the material of tape correlates to the transition of the moving image from film to video to DVD to file, and how that corresponds to the social experience of those images: public movie theatre to home video to personal devices.
The compression of the moving image is a subtext of the work and the film Reality Bites. In I Know It When I See It (Define Irony), a VHS copy of women’s responses are framed by a film strip on HD video. This treatment was partially inspired by video store decor, where television monitors played behind film strip cut-outs. The awkward juxtaposition of a video playing behind the image of a film strip, and an HD video of a VHS tape based on a film about someone making a documentary on VHS, functions as my own off-the-mark definition of irony. These types of media “jokes” are important, if undercover, to the work. [PDF]
BE MAGAZINE: I KNOW IT WHEN I SEE IT, by ARIE BOUMAN
Now, more than ever, the resources and labor used to manufacture the products that make up our lives are fragmented and scattered to the furthest reaches of the globe. These connections do not manifest themselves; instead they remain invisible to us beneath the shiny impenetrable surface of everyday items. Remnants of this commodity society feature strongly in the works of Eileen Maxson. Maxson often reimagines common objects and consumer experiences through personal history. By doing so, she creates an intriguing world of imagery that appears to us as both deeply familiar and profoundly alienating. Her works tear at the imagery of the culture industry, exposing how severely images have become embedded in our unconscious experience of reality. Scratching beneath the skin of quotidian experiences, Maxson's works challenge commodities promise for an understanding of the reality that they propose. Simultaneously, the works question their own promise for an authentic experience within art.
AURORA PICTURE SHOW: IS THIS ON? , by THOMAS BEARD
[Maxson's] videos evoke a world of faulty transmissions, moribund formats, and women under the influence of both. Each elegantly crafted tape conjures up a hidden history of media, one that emphasizes its most marginal and ephemeral forms, honing in on the strange powers and subtle pathos of, say, a botched broadcast, and celebrating the shifting material qualities of a medium that has remained in flux since its inception...[Maxson's videos] read like anxious dispatches from life at the dawn of a new millennium, where the limits of language have run aground upon the rapidly eroding shores of technologies past and present. [MORE]
LIGHT INDUSTRY: SCREENING NOTES, by WAYNE KOESTENBAUM
This screen test’s highlight is the syncopation that Maxson’s mouth and eyes enact: eyes and mouth move at cross purposes. The mouth announces nerd identity; but then the eyes twinkle, rescuing the face from nerd purdah. Irony flashes up from somberness, one gleam at a time. Maxson (playing Goodrow) obeys an irony-rationing edict: in hard times, the government apportions only a few instants of irony per month to each citizen. Have you noticed that many young people these days keep their faces numb and expressionless? Maxson allows me to understand that beneath a neutralized face may lie volcanic intensities. My daft assumptions about affect deficits are screentested by Maxson’s tour de force. [PDF]
DE ATELIERS: EILEEN MAXSON, by SUZANNE WALLINGA
By playing melodramatic characters and combining simple gestures with surprising medium-specific interventions, Maxson undermines the way in which we are accustomed to dealing with media images and objects from consumer society, particularly from America. Her way of working appears to be a strategy that Jörg Heiser would describe as “slapstick”. According to the critic, this artistic method is a way of simultaneously inflating and puncturing the authority of a person, institution or object. “[It is] a sudden jolt in a smooth sequence, an absurd attack of hiccoughs in everyday life and world events, allowing us to catch glimpses of the truth about ourselves and our relations with others. There is something liberating about this, and something moving.
ART PAPERS: DISTANCE EDUCATION (REVIEW), by ANJALI GUPTA
In this subtle, yet calculated parody Maxson advances a rather dystopic view of the information age, characterizing intellectual distance as the root of misinformation and, when combined with physical separation, a recipe for potential disaster. Her methodical, sparing use of video avoids blatant comedic gesture – conceptual ventriloquism at it's finest. [PDF]
ART LIES: THE MANY GUISES OF SINCERITY. by REGINE BASHA
One need only wonder why reality TV and karaoke are so popular right now to ascertain why artists…are repositioning these acts in the art world. Are…artists…finding irony in how sincere certain acts of fakery are? Is it the unapologetic premise of total fakery that makes rare and surprising instances of Sincerity more precious – more potent? In the casting phase of a new reality show, Faking It, I heard that some people invented phony personas to audition for it – an act probably more sincere to the requirement of the part than any attempt to "be themselves" for the show. Artist Eileen Maxson predates this with her own work Amy Goodrow, a video in which she dons a wig and performs an audition as an invented persona – a teenage molestation victim – with utterly painful Sincerity for an MTV Real World casting director. [PDF]
ARTFORUM: MECHANICAL PERCEPTIONS AT FOTOFEST, by SEAN CARROLL
In the gallery’s darkened entrance, a projector plays Eileen Maxson’s Untitled +++, 2008—repeating shots of disembodied hands and the murder of a hapless young man in a witness box. Weighty concrete pillars flank the screen, as sensationally banal broadcasting meets a sound track of über- Melvins drone metal. Maxson’s video builds tension through repetition, splicing lo-fi advertisements and ominous noise into the narrative. As the channels flip and the footage wobbles like a well-worn VHS tape, the astonishing grief of the protagonist providing testimony makes him sickening bait for scorn and disaster. Guilty and awkward, he discusses difficult details, racked by mental and later physical torture. In this simple, brutal work, Maxson bleeds sincerity, her motives hidden in the media tropes that she apes so well. [PDF]
THE HOUSTON PRESS: LOOK BACK IN ANGER, by TROY SCHULZE
But the real diamond here is Amy Goodrow: Tape 5925, Eileen Maxson's mock audition tape for MTV's The Real World. Shot from the point of view of the flunky whose job it is to review the tapes, we watch a 21-year-old college senior detailing memories of her first kiss, describing her hobbies (she makes Christmas cards) and confessing her deep feelings of loneliness -- all while the tape reviewer fast-forwards through sections and makes evening plans with his friends over the phone. It's funny, touching and infuriating. [PDF]