Breitz’s multi-channel video installation draws on the language of the global media, appropriating raw footage from the familiar realm of popular culture to create new audio-visual landscapes. Using the strategies of both composer and DJ, Breitz isolates, splices and remixes footage from mainstream films, television programs and music videos. Her deconstructive method combines a linguistic and structural critique of pop consumerism with the enthusiasm of an adoring fan, such that viewers are invited to probe their own ambivalent positions as fans of consumerism and/or consumers of fan-dom.
During her residency at ArtPace, Breitz produced Diorama, a nine-monitor video installation based upon the long-running TV series, Dallas (1978-1991). For the project, Breitz extracts and edits footage from cliffhanger episodes into nine video loops, each dedicated to one of the series’ main characters and played on its own monitor. The monitors simultaneously chant a repeating catalogue of dilemmas commonly associated with the late twentieth-century family. As the patriarch Jock Ewing repeats, “my barbecue, my house, my barbecue, my house…” the matriarch Miss Ellie whimpers, “I always cry at weddings, I always cry at weddings….” Trapped in another monitor, the daughter-in-law Pam retorts, “But what about love, but what about love…” while the tyrant first son J.R. proclaims, “He’s no son of mine, he’s no son of mine….” Dallas tantalized its audience with the promise of an impending twist or plot diversion, yet invariably depended on a stable cast of characters. The installation is composed of a litany of phrases covering birth and death, marriage and divorce, shares and heirs, annulment and adoption, suicide and betrayal. Like Dallas, Diorama delves into a cross-section of intimate traumas commonly suffered by the suburban family. Further highlighting the domesticity of the project, the monitors are placed in an ArtPace apartment. The viewer is never offered the relief of narrative development or closure and is left to ponder the relationship between personal memories and social memories shared as consumers of the global media.
In addition to Diorama, Breitz presents a series of five interior decorated listening stations in her playing time- or trend-specific music, with a fragmentary environment ground floor gallery space titled Your Sixties, Your Seventies, Your Eighties, Your Classic Country and Your Chicken Soup. Similar to Diorama, these “personal jukeboxes” investigate the way in which our nostalgia for the past is packaged and sold back to us as a range of consumer products and lifestyles. Each of Breitz’s “nostalgia machines” forms an actual jukebox that is contiguous with that music.