I dropped by the DCA to check out the latest exhibit by Eve Fowler, ‘What a Slight. What a Sound. What a Universal Shudder’ — pieces all influenced by Gertrude Stein’s writings. I was unprepared for how hard it hit, even in the first piece, ‘with it which is as it if it is to be’ — disorienting because you step through black out curtains into a darkened room. I have poor night vision so I had to stand there for a moment. I was instantly mesmerised:
This 16mm work is an intimate portrait of some of Fowler’s closest friends in the LA artistic community: the camera focuses on several female artists working in their studios with an accompanying soundtrack of their voices reading from Stein’s 1910 text Many Many Women. Yin Ho, writing in Artforum, described this film as “a quietly explosive work: a subtle, simple document of female camaraderie and process, and the subdued magic of everyday life.”
We so seldom value woman–full stop, yes–but especially as artists. Think of all the loving docos of male artists in all their seriousness. The attention to technique, the fawning po-faced attachment to their importance. To see these women creating like this while Stein’s words echoed filled me with such a joy. I needed this. I need to see these women working. I need it to keep working myself.
‘This one is one and she is that one. Each one is one. There are many. Each one is different from any other one.’
I finally understand Stein and her orality. I think delving much more into sound studies has helped my brain make that connection. When I was first exposed to her back in my younger, literalist days, I could only approach her in literary terms. A big misunderstanding.
I need to go back and see it again. Great exhibition.