4/15/10 2:19 PM
Teri Frame is a sculptor of the uncanny. In her videos, women’s bodies are topped with men’s heads, faces point backwards, and humans become animals. Everything is wrong, anatomically incorrect, and grotesquely taboo—and yet it is done without special effects, without animation, without anything but a single person, the artist, and a single substance, clay. The clay, however, acts as a uniquely flexible mask which Frame can manipulate endlessly through additive and subtractive means, as well as pure handling. The unsettling effects of the work belie the simplicity of this setup but are completely in keeping with the artist’s genuine facility for her material and her astute grasp of the power that the human face holds, especially as it is forced to undergo distortions that are not natural to it. All of this is used to greatest effect in the video “Chimera,” where a staunch politician’s face is morphed, minute by minute, into one that bears giant mouse ears, then a grossly protuberant Pinocchio nose, then a piggie nose. Not a bad portrait of a politician in real time, come to think of it.