Playback::Britt Ragsdale



June 14 – July 12, 2013

Opening Reception June 21 6pm-9pm

Britt Ragsdale

An exhibition of new video works by Britt Ragsdale, curated by Paul Middendorf
On view June 14 – July 12

Opening Reception: Friday, June 21, 6 – 8 PM at Fresh Arts

Fresh Arts and galleryHOMELAND Houston are pleased to present Playback, the second installment of two collaborative exhibition projects curated by Paul Middendorf and hosted by Fresh Arts. Playback features a collection of videos by artist Britt Ragsdale that explore and re-interpret the body language typically featured in classic romantic cinema from the 1930′s through 1970′s.

Distinct actions, postures, gestures and facial expressions are synonymous with this genre of film for how they communicate both love and love lost. The intense, somewhat forceful embrace of a leading man is a recurrent symbol of affection, much like the tricky flick of a female’s foot upon receiving a kiss from her true love. Ragsdale examines these themes via a pastiche of romance movies that are distilled to single moments and emphasized through imitation, tableau, and repetition. The familiar body language, when extracted, transforms into an inelegant guise for deeper social and psychological issues to be examined.

Ragsdale says, “It is my intent that through this intense scrutiny, a solitary gesture can convey the complexity, depth, and profundity of human relations.”

This intense scrutiny is illustrated in The Chase [pictured right: Run Through 1, from The Chase series, Britt Ragsdale, video, 2013, Photo courtesy of the artist], a video from a developing group of works referred to as “run-throughs.” These videos are rehearsals for specific, yet generic film scenes. In The Chase, actress Janin Stenzel repeatedly rehearses her role as the standard female protagonist. She concentrates on the close-up exasperated gasp, signifying an important moment when a character has come upon something essential or realized an important key point to the plot – a moment of clarity or a turning point for the character. However, the viewer never sees what aroused her attention or caused her despair. The repetition of the looped video breaks down any expectation of a narrative and draws attention to this single moment.

Another series of video tableaus, called Duets, revolves around amorous expectation and depicts actual couples arranged in poses derived from classic romantic film scenes. While many people may have grand visions about romance, it rarely equates to the relationships featured on film. The men and women in these videos hold a single affectionate pose for as long as possible. Given time, they start to reveal small gestures and expressions of discomfort. They disclose a palpable awkwardness when trying to hold these poses, a sensation that is quite different from what general appearances may suggest. The initial pose becomes a façade that fades away upon closer inspection.

Playback will be on view from June 14 through July 12, 2013 and the public is invited to meet the artist and curator at a free opening reception on Friday, June 21, from 6-8 PM at the Fresh Arts gallery. (2101 Winter Street, Studio B11, Houston, TX, 77007)

Britt Ragsdale is a visual artist currently living and working in Houston, Texas. Receiving a BFA from Lamar University and an MFA from the University of Houston, Ragsdale has exhibited her work throughout Texas. She is interested in the social anthropology and psychoanalysis of pretense, exploring this theme by means of photography, video, installation and performance. Ragsdale is a 2012 Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant recipient and The Big Show 2011 CultureMap People’s Choice Award winner.

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