Martha Colburn

Dolls vs Dictators

21 May - 25 June 2011

Dolls vs Dictators

Working between experimental film, performance and collage, Martha Colburn is now showing her most recent works at Galerie Diana Stigter.

One of Colburns recent and remarkably up-to-date films is ‘Dolls vs Dictators’ (2010) which has a clear storyline concept: the last remaining dictators of the history are slaughtered by the triumphing power of puppets and dolls. Colburns violent narrative is placed in an unsettling, science fiction-like landscape and includes familiar faces like Pee Wee Herman and Brooke Shields who take on the likes of Kim Jong-Il and Gadaffi’s female body guards. Witnessing this bloody battle of puppets, pop culture figures and political leaders is at once unnerving, amusing and darkly satisfying.

Another film in which Colburn creates a mesmerizing and unsettling portrait of contemporary issues, is her film ‘Join the Freedom Force’ (2009). In a fast-paced collage of images inspired by street protests around the world, Colburn utilizes the language and materials of filmmaking to comment on popular culture, consumerism, politics, and sexuality. Another film called ‘One and One is Life’ (2009) is a play of wonder women and automobiles, glory, and the idea of the old triumphing over the new, in which she is able to create an intriuiging world with visual and musical hallucinations by including Satie-like piano renderings of the mad composer Thollem McDonas.

Through a collage of live-action (paint-on-glass) animations, found footage and documentary filmmaking techniques, Colburn gives life to her political heroes and villains. In her oeuvre, she adresses to the history of the United States and its relationship to contemporary foreign and domestic policy. In her former films like ‘Triumph of the Wild’ (2008) -refering to Leni Riefenstahl’s ‘Triumph of the Will’-, Colburn explored the psychological states of players and victims in the ‘game of war’ over the past 300 years of American History. In ‘Destiny Manifesto’ (2006), she mixed heroic paintings of the American western frontier and their war on Indians with contemporay images reflecting the conflicts in the Middle East and, in particular, the war in Iraq. In doing so, Colburn was able to draw interesting visual and psychological parallels between the representation of these two periods.

Martha Colburn has been creating an impressive oeuvre on important events in modern history. Her works are witty, ironic and refreshing, but also have a kaleidoscopic, almost hallucinating effect. It is like opening Pandora’s Box.