New York-based artist Amie Siegel works between film, photography, performance, and installation. In her solo exhibition Interiors, she investigates ideas about objects and their perceived cultural value, and the power systems innate to connoisseurship and museum practice. Through the complex, meticulously constructed works that are her signature, she explores how hierarchies of ownership, care, and display—constructs of the human mind as well as the museum—implicate institution, audience, and artist alike.
A slow reveal over multiple parts, Provenance (2013), is a seminal work in which the artist peels back layers of cultural patrimony, revealing the global trade in modernist furniture from architect Le Corbusier’s controversial planned city of Chandigarh, India. The main film follows, in reverse, the trajectory of this furniture from wealthy collectors’ homes to art auctions, restoration, and shipping, and then back to the furniture’s origins in India. Proof (Christie’s 19 October, 2013) and the video Lot 248 (2013) depict the sale of Provenance at a Christie’s London contemporary art auction, placing the artist’s own work as a participant in the speculative circuit of art and capital it depicts.
Siegel’s work often involves deliberate but ambiguous acts of spectatorship, observing objects in their architectural and cultural contexts, suggesting, at times a regard both voyeuristic and clinical. Fetish (2016), filmed at London’s Freud Museum, depicts the annual nocturnal cleaning of the psychoanalyst’s collection of archeological artifacts, creating parallels between the careful, almost ritualistic removal of dust from the objects and the intimate excavations and disclosures of analysis, both normally hidden from view.
The theme of fetishization is also an undercurrent in Siegel’s treatment of architectural spaces themselves. In Double Negative (2015) two black and white 16mm films simultaneously project an identical sequence of shots of Le Corbusier’s iconic white Villa Savoye outside Paris, and its doppelgänger, a black copy of the building in Canberra, Australia. Printed on 16mm stock as negative, each film thus reverses light and dark. An adjacent HD color video, which places both buildings in the context of their native French and Australian environments, reveals the interior of the black Villa and undoes its identity as architectural clone—it is instead an entirely different space, the home of an Australian ethnographic institute at work digitizing its collection of media and object artifacts.
These multilayered representations—of objects that embody history and memory, operating within mannered, manmade spaces—allow the artist to map out the interior mechanisms, visible or invisible, authentic or fictional, that define social and aesthetic worth.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website