Damnation of Faust

Video - "The Damnation of Faust: Evocation"

Dara Birnbaum is an internationally award-winning creator of film and video. Subtlety and pale, pastel images are definitely not what one experiences when viewing the works of Dara Birnbaum. The viewer is virtually assaulted with music, color and light. She uses classic television imagery derived from drama, soap opera, sporting events and even commercial to mimic and parody human emotions and body language. She manipulates the contrast between real life and television fiction by using "T.V. treatment" - cross cuts, reverse shots, scenes folding and unfolding at a fast pace.

A clear example of Birnbaum's style and interpretation at work is the video, "The Damnation of Faust: Evocation", 1983. This work is the prologue to a three part video series in which she transforms the classic myth of "Faust" into a contrast study of self-examination and the external world. She brings her artistic and architectural background into play, using fans and vertical pillars as visual aids that bring the viewer into the picture frame; scenes fold and unfold like a fan, showing bits and glimpses of her message as the fan unfolds. This is also demonstrative of the dual-meaning of the video. As much as the fan unfolds - revealing its message; it also folds back again, concealing its message and language.

Birnbaum is very much the individual in style, theme and execution. She turns her treatment of various mass media images into a whole new sphere of art perspective and interpretation. Her work can be characterized by multiple frames, haunting incantations and synthetic pop musical score.

--Sean Maguire

Dara Birnbaum