Home > Past Exhibitions > 1998 > Lynn Cazabon

Lynn Cazabon
American, born 1964, resides in Lewisburg, PA
Spot (1998) audio, video, monitors, steel, clothing, shoes, fingernails, table, curtain, spot light
Cazabon's installation dismantles our perceptions of gender identity as the viewer maneuvers through a multimedia, theatrical environment. A woman's voice narrates a verbal transcription of the beginning of a pornographic film that relates to the objects on the table in the first room. Proceeding through the curtain, a spotlight disorients the viewer's sense of space and, in effect, transports the viewer onstage. Floating squares of light show moving images of body parts-- breathing, fragmented, and hovering. To return to what was once the entrance becomes a step backstage, blurring the boundary between the viewer's body and the "viewed" body of the piece.
The title of the installation provides a kind of map for the piece itself. The word "spot" functions in multiple ways throughout the piece, on both literal and metaphoric levels. First, in descriptive terms, there is a theatrical spotlight that serves to illuminate one side of a red curtain. This spotlight literally and figuratively puts the viewer in the position of being "on the spot," (the context and central focus of the piece), as the viewer slips into the position of the "viewed" for a moment. This points to yet another meaning ofThe spotlight can be seen as one enters the installation on one of seven video monitors.
A person, the artist, can be seen repeatedly emerging through the curtain (that the viewer is about to pass through) wearing the clothing that is laying on the table near the monitor, awkwardly stepping out into the darkness. Location and position also refer back to the audio content of the piece, a verbal translation of the beginning of a heterosexual pornographic film, before any explicit sexual activity occurs between the two characters in the story. In this narration, the pronouns "he," "she," "I," and "you" shift in an unstable relation to one another, bringing gender and sexuality into reference. At the back of the space, facing the red curtain, float six small video monitors forming a roughly sketched and shadowy body that breathes in a mechanically repetitive manner. These monitors shift in position in a metaphorical way between being the viewer (the person entering the space) and the viewed body of the piece itself. Implicit here is that within the act of viewing itself, there is a fluidity and instability to identity that we normally refuse and repress, claiming instead our biologically gendered bodies as the ground zero position of the "self."

Cazabon's work grew conceptually from images of the body: "I find it paradoxical that we know (see) ourselves (our bodies) through images; images being by nature separate and alienated from the body. Recognition of one's own body image can thus be accompanied simultaneously by feelings of desire and disgust." Cazabon experimented with several different versions for this installation before arriving at the present design. For instance, in one version the red curtain encircled the video monitors rather than divide the room in half. An earlier idea was to walk the 210 miles between Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, filming the entire journey on super-eight film and then weaving the processed film into steel frames. The videos at the back of the room were made by videotaping a pornographic film, then enlarging the body parts mentioned in the audio tape.

Lynn Cazabon holds a B.F.A. in Photography and a B.A. in Arts and Ideas from the University of Michigan and received a M.F.A. in Photography from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1990. Her work combines photography, video and film within the three-dimensional format of installation. The physical configurations of her works often blur the boundaries between the art work and the viewer, dismantling our association of viewer passivity in relation to art and especially video. She is currently an Associate Professor of Art at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 

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