“Many a time the mirror imprisons him and holds him firmly. Fascinated he stands in front. He is absorbed, separated from reality and alone with his dearest vice, vanity. However readily he spreads out all the other vices for all, he keeps this one secret and disowns it even before his most intimate friends.”
Rrose Sélavy, Men before the Mirror (1934)
The video titled Tailor is a work about selfhood and otherness, man and woman, the narrative relationship between text and image and the exchangeability of gazes and modes of being. It focuses on the Dadaist text titled Men Before a Mirror (1934) – a confession of masculine vanity. The text describes the self-awareness at a moment when the mirror gazes back at its subject, in a way creating the man. The work combines a video of a male tailor meticulously cutting and sewing a man’s suit and an audio element of a woman reciting a text adapted by Ekström and recorded on a magnetophone. The third element is a pool of water into which the video is reflected, continuing in an endless chain of mirrorings.
Men before the Mirror is a text attributed to ‘Rrose Sélavy’, the feminine alter ego of Marcel Duchamp, but the real identity of the text’s author remains to conjecture. The text contends that men create themselves based on what women tell them, or have praised in them. “Women have taught the that power does not succeed. Women have told them what is attractive in them, they have forgotten; but now they put themselves together like a mosaic out of what pleased women in them.”What kind of identification does the work portray: The Mirror Stage, self-alignment with the familiar, or something else?
Lee Miller, the friend, lover, muse and collaborator of Man Ray, worked with and documented the Dadaists and the surrealists in the beginning of her photographer’s career. Her well-known portraits include a picture of Man Ray in front of a mirror, masked in foam, shaving. This video is a work dedicated to Lee Miller’s gaze, as she observes the dissolving “face” of the man.
2011 – 2016, 13:25, SINGLE CHANNEL VIDEO WORK
Director: Saara Ekström, Tailor: Matti Hampaala, Camera: Thom Vink, Editing: Eero Tammi, Foley Artist: Heikki Kossi, Foley mixer: Kari Vähäkuopus, Sound Studio: H5 Film Sound Ltd, Colour grading: Petri Falkenberg,
Production support: AVEK / Elena Näsänen, The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland
SCREENINGS and EXHIBITIONS
2011 Limbus, Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland
2011 Limbus, Kuntsi, Museum of Modern Art, Vaasa, Finland
2012 Limbus, Åland Museum of Art, Mariehamn, Finland
2014 Agitations, Salo Art Museum, Finland
2016 Alchemy, Wäinö Aaltonen Museum, Turku, Finland
2018 No Ordinary Moments, Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Espoo, Finland