Moyra Davey: Les Goddesses

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A still from Moyra Davey's film "Les Goddesses." A woman leans against the wall reading a piece of paper, in front of two windows with the curtains tied in front of them.

Still from Moyra Davey’s Les Goddesses, 2011.


In Les Goddesses, filmed almost entirely in the artist’s New York apartment, Moyra Davey draws parallels between her familial experience and the family of 18th-century writer and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Leafing through postcards, book pages, and her own photographs as she talks, Davey reflects on varied approaches to photography and film, such as planned versus unscripted recording of reality and the passage from private to public realms with a camera. Davey punctuates her narration with thoughts on writing as she simultaneously listens to and recites a script based on her 2011 essay, “The Wet and the Dry.”

The video’s coda reveals a development in Davey’s photographic practice informed by the filming process of Les Goddesses. The work closes with the artist venturing out and entering the New York City subway, where she focuses her camera on riders engaged in various forms of writing. Les Goddesses highlights the importance of chance in the artist’s work and the paradoxical nature of the creative process. Davey states: “Just when I’d been writing about the disappearance of the figure from my photographs, I found myself taking street pictures again, in the dim green lights of the Manhattan subway.”

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