Maura Brewer

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Artist Statement

Feminism, identity and representation in media are motivating concerns in my practice. Through video, performance, and experimental design, my work critiques the construction of gender identity in mass culture. My work in video and performance uses appropriation to ask questions about the ways that cinematic identification constructs female subjects. My recent body of work, Jessica Chastain, challenges the logic of agency and autonomy that characterizes narrative cinema. Chastain, a popular Hollywood actress, occupies an archetypical female role. In her films, she is enmeshed within patriarchal systems that offer her power (like NASA or the CIA) while simultaneously constraining her actions, leaving her inert and depressed. Zero Dark Birthday, :/nterstellar and The Surface of Mars are videos that use appropriated footage from Jessica Chastain’s films Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar, and The Martian. The films are deconstructed and reordered with the addition of voice over, music, animation and text to uncover new meanings, drawing attention to her marginalized position within the film’s narrative. Chastain is always acting, but never under her own power. Another, ongoing project is a collaboration called The Rational Dress Society, with fashion designer Abigail Glaum-Lathbury. Together, we make JUMPSUIT, an open source, ungendered garment to replace all clothes. JUMPSUIT functions as both a wearable garment and a conversation about identity, fashion and consumption. Under the auspices of JUMPSUIT, we hold make-your-own-JUMPSUIT workshops and stage performative lectures on the histories of revolutionary and utopian dress, focusing on feminist and anti-capitalist garments.