Shotgun Review

Double Bind

By Brian Andrews September 13, 2010

The Internet has become the de facto interface for experiencing contemporary art. Whether we like it or not, the sheer volume of international web-based documentation and exhibition-promotion dwarfs the number of shows someone can realistically view in person. Marisa Olson’s Double Bind (2010) at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive’s online NetArt Exhibition, embraces the browser-based art viewing experience. On a clean page, two embedded YouTube videos coexist side by side on the page as a performative diptych. Each stream features Olson from a three-quarter view. On the left, she completely binds her head and face with a hot pink latex bondage tape, which is unwound and removed in the right channel. The simple gesture revisits early feminist performance and video work, drawing attention to the uneven shifts of Western women’s power within the past forty years. The real beauty of the work is in the interplay between the video streams. Looping at different durations, the images drift out of sync, punctuated by random frozen frames as the video streams buffer, which create odd synchronicities between the actions. These emergent moments of happenstance give weight to the performances’ metaphorical gestures of resistance and control.

Video still from the left channel of Marisa Olson’s Double Bind (2010). Courtesy of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

The archive link on BAM/PFA’s website, activated after the official end of the exhibition, unfortunately ruins the effect. Instead of displaying the page with both the videos embedded side-by-side, it sends you to Olson’s YouTube page, where each video resides alone as just another Internet upload.


Double Bind is on view at BAM/PFA NetArt.

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