In Costume Party, 2005, history becomes a chamber play. Written and directed by Maryam Jafri for her first solo museum presentation, the three-screen video installation features nonactors along with film and theater professionals. Other recent works hybridizing video art with film or the live arts come to mind—for different reasons, Yinka Shonibare’s Un Ballo in Maschera, 2004, and Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij’s Mandarin Ducks, 2005—but Costume Party is an altogether more satirical project.
The party guests have been invited to come dressed from their favorite historical period, and so the characters—ranging from a crusader and a monk to a cowboy and a Victorian widow—reflect defining moments in Western civilization since antiquity. Between cabaret performances and anxious talk among the guests of a violent uprising taking place “outside,” it transpires that some breach of the law—a
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