Alex Bag - Untitled Fall '95 (1995)

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In Untitled Fall '95, Bag, at the time an art student, "plays" Bag the art student. In a series of deadpan performances, Bag gathers fragments of pop detritus, fashioning a thoroughly mediated document that is at once a celebration and a record of loss. With the narrative inevitability of a TV serial, the eight diaristic segments trace a woman's struggle to make sense of her experience at art school. As each installment marks the start of a new semester, Bag's character addresses the camera with her latest observations and frustrations.

Interspersed between these confessions are eight set-pieces, in which Bag performs scenes from the background noise of her imagination: a pretentious visiting artist, London shop-girls discussing their punk band, a Ronald MacDonald puppet attempting to pick up a Hello Kitty doll, the singer Bjork explaining how television works. These surreal episodes sketch out what Bag sees as the simultaneous attraction and repulsion of contemporary youth culture, and teeter on the divide between parody and complicity.

What emerges is a picture of anxiety, boredom, and ambivalence. As Bag despairs at one point, her culture is being sold back to her. However, popular culture, enmeshed with fashion, music, and the art world, necessarily depends on the machinations of capitalism. How does one mount a successful critique, when irony, satire and subversion have been enshrined by advertising and the popular imagination?

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at 8:35 PM