Washington, DC

Janet Biggs

Conner Contemporary Art

During a potently intimate moment in the video Fade to White, 2010, a singer (New York–based performance artist John Kelly) is shown attaining a state of grace—ecstasy worthy of Saint Theresa. Slowly closing and opening his eyes, Kelly extends outstretched hands, his plaintive countertenor arcing around the notes of the late Renaissance composer Giulio Caccini’s haunting madrigal “Amarilli, mia bella.” In a parallel narrative, arctic explorer Audun Tholfsen was filmed reaching a similar height, though less perceptibly, while sailing and kayaking frigid waters and hiking the icy Svalbard archipelago, located midway between the northern tip of Norway and the North Pole. Though neither character dramatically collapses into acres of marble drapery as does Bernini’s Theresa, each evinces an expressive extracorporeality that artist Janet Biggs captured as she skillfully intercut the two characters’

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