The Ballad of Myra Furrow

1994 | 00:05:00 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Gender, Performance

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The image comes up suddenly and then continues unwavering: a young person (Mirra) dressed in a black watchcap and pea coat stands at the edge of a large body of water and sings a sea shanty, occasionally flinching to emphasize certain lyrics or fend off the steady drizzle of rain. The frame is broken up into simple shapes—sea, sky, hat, face, coat—and the longer Mirra sings, the more rain collects on the lens of the camera—threatening to obliterate the subject into the background of sea and sky. Mirra’s ballad maintains the same implicit social critique [as Cindy Sherman’s or Yasumasa Morimura]: that respecting conventional gender codes means a safe but always repressed social role, devoid of any overt expressions of sexuality. The larger irony of Mirra’s piece, however, questions such compliant behavior, since mixing up roles and gender codes reveals that none is more viable or mythical than any other.

—Joe Scanlan

This title is also available on Helen Mirra Videoworks: Volume 1.