Critics’ Picks

Amie Siegel, The Noon Complex, 2016, three-channel HD video, color, sound, indefinite duration.

Amie Siegel, The Noon Complex, 2016, three-channel HD video, color, sound, indefinite duration.

San Francisco

Amie Siegel

Ratio 3
2831a Mission Street
April 5–June 1, 2019

Amie Siegel’s new show begins with a series of prints (“Body Scripts,” 2015) made from reproduced pages of Alberto Moravia’s 1954 novel Il Disprezzo (published in English as A Ghost at Noon). Using teal gouache, Siegel has blocked out references to characters other than the female protagonist, as if she were forcing the story to pass the Bechdel test.

Siegel’s three-channel video The Noon Complex, 2016, inverts this visibility. Here, the artist has digitally removed Brigitte Bardot’s character from Jean-Luc Godard’s film Contempt (1963), which was inspired by Moravia’s novel. Two of the channels, mural-size projections, depict the interior of the modernist Villa Malaparte in Capri; Godard’s camera lingers on an empty couch, or in front of a picture window where Bardot once stood. The third channel plays on a smaller screen, where Siegel’s camera follows a blond actor reenacting Bardot’s blocking in an empty gallery, highlighting the fact that Bardot’s body itself was an object on display in Godard’s film.

The exhibition concludes with a captivating twenty-seven-minute video essay, Genealogies, 2016, in which a measured voice-over illuminates the interconnectedness of Il Disprezzo, Contempt, and dozens of other cultural works—from an essay by Freud to a filmed performance by Pink Floyd—in the recurring address of certain myths, fantasies, sites, and images. In Siegel’s many examples, the anxiety of influence takes on a conspiratorial air.

Objects are said not to cast shadows at midday, when the sun is directly overhead; historically, noon was considered the time when ghosts roamed the earth undetected. Through her copious research, Siegel reveals the long shadows cast across Western culture by several singular works of art.