Experimenter presents Bring My Garters / Do Nothing, a solo exhibition by Moyra Davey, whose work comprises of photography, film, and writing. Davey’s films often explore compulsion, creativity, and the feminine. Bring My Garters / Do Nothing offers an intimate perspective into the artist’s world, her memories, stories of her family, friends, and references to her artistic, literary, and philosophical influences. The works on display in this solo exhibition are: Les Goddesses (2011), Hemlock Forest (2016), Wedding Loop (2017), Bring My Garters / Do Nothing (2017), and a series of four silver gelatin portraits.
In Les Goddesses (2011), Davey presents part photo-story, part document, featuring audio and image running in anachronistic parallel. Davey’s voice-over narrates the tragic experience of the political philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft and her family, linking these to her own life and work as a photographer. Les Goddesses moves between the margins of cultural history, the creation of personal memory and the development of Davey’s artistic practice. Similarly, Hemlock Forest (2016) employs a rigorous formal structure as Davey traces the worlds of author Karl Ove Knausgård and director Chantal Akerman as she considers the implications of her son leaving home and Akerman’s suicide. These personal, autobiographical, historical and cultural influences combine most powerfully and self-consciously in Wedding Loop (2017). The film is an insight into a wedding party and the women involved, reflected through the work of 19th-century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. It positions itself around Davey’s recounting of how she herself photographed a family wedding in 1980: in the midst of all the “tears, angst, anger, and drunkenness…I have arrived with my camera and performed the same role”.
It is a profound personal intensity that allows nothing to remain static in Davey’s films. This is illustrated as Davey paces continually in her apartment in her films, reading out from her own notes as trains move through the subway and light shifts as it comes in through the windows illuminating everyday objects such as books that are marked or cut into sections that come alive as pages are turned or dust is blown off their tops. The camera moves across the surface of the photographs, which are brought into often oblique or ironic relations with the artist’s commentary and account of revealing her filmmaking processes.
In another part of the gallery, silver gelatin portraits accompany a collage: Bring My Garters / Do Nothing (2017). The world that Davey creates through these images is assembled out of gestures of direct address, relationship and connection. Images are superimposed with traces of postage – folds, labels, tapes, and stamps, pinned to the wall without the protection of frames and glass. Davey subverts the image-capturing quality of the photograph by emphasizing its nature as object.
Moyra Davey (b. Toronto 1958) earned a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal, in 1982, and an MFA from the University of California San Diego in 1988. In 1989, she attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. Davey has been the subject of major solo exhibitions at institutions including Portikus, Frankfurt/Main (2017); Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2016); Camden Arts Centre, London (2014); Kunsthalle Basel (2010); and Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2008). Her work has been featured in recent group exhibitions including documenta 14 (2017), Le Grand Balcon: La Bienniale de Montréal (2016), The Imminence of Poetics: XXX Bienal de São Paolo (2012), and the Whitney Biennial (2012). She is the author of several publications including Burn the Diaries andThe Problem of Reading, and is the editor of Mother Reader: Essential Writings on Motherhood. Davey’s work is found in major public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Tate Modern in London. She is the 2018 recipient of the Scotiabank Photography Award, and in 2004 was granted the Anonymous was a Woman Award.