John Miller. Mannequin Death (with Richard Hoeck) (2016). Toll Free (2019). What Is a Subject? (2020)
Metro Pictures is presenting a different artist’s film or series of shorts each weekend to stream online from Friday at noon until Sunday at midnight (Eastern Time).
This week we are screening John Miller’s Mannequin Trilogy. Miller has used mannequins in his practice for over 20 years and characterizes them as simple anthropomorphized clothing racks that can nonetheless prompt unnerving degrees of identification. In Mannequin Death Miller works with long-time collaborator Richard Hoeck to create a mesmerizing and disturbing video where a string of mannequins plummet over a cliff’s edge into a quarry, one by one. In Toll Free a camera slowly rotates from a central vantage point located in the middle of a busy intersection as floating images of desk phones and mannequin hands come and go and robocalls leave voicemail messages. Details of male mannequins flash in rapid succession in Miller’s What Is a Subject? In staging these absurd scenes, he asks, “If mannequins can still command our attention, is it asking too much for them to shoulder some of our impending boredom and frustration in return? Or is it enough simply to fantasize about this prospect?”
Mannequin Death was included in the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo and in Miller’s first major American survey I Stand, I Fall, which took place at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, in 2016. An edition of the film is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
WARNING: The film What Is a Subject? contains repeated flashing imagery.