For video artist Courtney Egan, mass culture is both the raw material and the subject matter of her “video collages.” Her work, she says, is about “how culture —media culture in particular—affects me emotionally.”
“I think of my pieces as moving paintings, or moving collages,” Egan says. The collages are composed primarily of snippets of borrowed video footage, often gleaned from “the classic film section at Block-buster.” Thus, a five-part work entitled “The Chaos Hags” incorporates Marilyn Monroe’s mouth and the bosoms of Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Russell, as well as faces from “The Exorcist” and “Splendor in the Grass.” Such images, Egan says, “become part of our cultural landscape and how we look at and reference the world.”
Egan almost never uses full-shots from the films. Instead, she takes just a facial ex-pression or a moving body part and layers them on top of each other, creating some-thing entirely new. “I can use Joan Craw-ford’s eyes,” she says, “but they’re trans-formed by what’s around them.”
The “Chaos Hags” were spawned when Egan started thinking about “how women were portrayed in films when they have emotions.” With names like “High Main-tenance,” “Charm School,” and “Paranoid,” the Hags show the insidious side of female stereotypes.
Egan’s art belies a fascination with movies and the media, but her feelings might best be described as love-hate. “I try to acknowledge and accept that it has a huge influence,” she says. “But I also hate that it has power over me.”
This article appears in the November 2004 issue of New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles