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Desiree Holman's Heterotopias at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Desirée Holman: video still composite from Heterotopias, 2011; three-channel HD video; 13 mins.; courtesy of the artist and Silverman Gallery, San Francisco.
KRISTIANSAND.- Desirée Holman's second solo museum show features a new video that combines live action and 3-D digital animation, paired with a series of sixteen drawings that visualize the process of gamers embodying their avatars. The exhibition connects with two other recent Holman projects—The Magic Window (2007), an ecstatic mash-up of iconic TV sitcoms, and Reborn (2009), which takes inspiration from "reborner" culture, wherein women adopt toy dolls as their true children—to form a trilogy that interrogates the human tendency to engage in fictional narratives.

For Heterotopias, each of the nine participants developed a fantasy character that Holman realized through physical costumes and drawings but also digitally with fully rendered 3-D models. The characters that Holman's performers invented conflate popular archetypes found in media culture and in fantasy role-playing games as an expression of individual desire. Cutting across physical and cultural divisions, the characters sometimes reveal internal truths rarely projected in everyday reality, but these fantastical constructions betray the vulnerabilities of the real selves that they supplant.

In the video, role-play transcends real and virtual realms, slipping fluidly among the critical and participatory frameworks of avatar, engineer, and live performer. A series of drawings serve as conceptual pauses within the installation, anachronistically handcrafted "stills" that frame the metadiscourse of the virtual apparatus alongside the more ecstatically experiential video.

Holman lives and works in Oakland, California. She received her M.F.A. from UC Berkeley. She has exhibited her work internationally, including at the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art, Brazil; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Machine Project, Los Angeles; The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, New York; and BnD Studios in Milan. In 2007 she was honored with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's (SFMOMA) biannual SECA Award and was also a resident at the Headlands Center for the Arts. She recently released her first self-titled catalog. Her work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums including BAM/PFA, SFMOMA, and the Hammer Museum.

Desirée Holman: Heterotopias / MATRIX 238 is curated by Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas.





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