Video art as a genre relies heavily on testimonial or confessional discourse. Typically, an imagistic collage is accompanied by a sound track in which a narrator, presumably the artist, tells her own story directly to the video audience. While first person narratives promise to deliver authentic experience, they often mask their own constructedness. Spectators are drawn into such narrative styles by literary devices and through psychological structures of identification. In art, as in other disciplines, testimony has become a primary vehicle for the retrieval and transmission of neglected and marginalized histories. At the same time, testimony must be regarded with suspicion, lest the powerful combination of the mesmerizing video screen and self-validating subjective content overpower, rather than invite, critical thought on the part of the spectator. If a story about oneself, compellingly told, turns out to be false, is it worth more or less than one fully accurate but poorly narrated?
Veracity is a video installation that addresses the ascendancy of first person testimony as a stylistically prominent form in video art. The project both uses the tradition of testimony and at the same time critiques it, interlacing theoretical and personal texts. Six professional women collaborate on and appear in Veracity: an actor, a literary critic, a psychoanalyst, a trial attorney, a Dominican sister, and a videographer. Each has lost her father, though at a different point in her life and under different circumstances. In addition to telling her own story, each informant also describes her professional engagement with veracity. The themes that emerge in the interviews include professional truth, practice, credibility, lying, personal truth, core truth, confession, artistic truth, and relative truth. By offering "authentic" testimony and simultaneously critiquing the premises of personal truth narration, Veracity interrogates the faith placed in autobiography. As we all must do on a daily basis, Veracity negotiates the "both/and" of testimony and its critique.
a video project by Laurie Beth Clark
FLASH DEVELOPER & EDITOR
Jenny San Martin
Clark Thompson with help from Dick Geier & Jesse Winters
Joseph Connelly, Adele Roberts, Piper Vollmer
Susan David Bernstein
Mary Catherine Fons
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