The newest video by St. Vincent, who performed here in October, has a distinctly Walker vibe. Set in a white-walled gallery, singer Annie Clark is presented as a gigantic and uncannily realistic sculpture, one the video’s director, Hiro Murai, says is inspired by the work of Ron Mueck, whose Crouching Boy in Mirror is in our Lifelike exhibition. Pitchfork caught up with Murai and asked about the link to Mueck and about why he set the video in a gallery:
Pitchfork: Were you inspired by the artist Ron Mueck?
HM: Yes! People have a natural tendency to read emotions out of faces, so when you see a face that is hyperreal but without the life behind the eyes, it’s really off-putting and intriguing. Mueck’s sculptures are amazing, but the weirdest part was how all these people were huddling around and looking at them. It created this weird dynamic: The sculptures are three or four times bigger than everyone else in the room, and they feel like they have a lot of power, and yet they’re always vulnerable-looking. It felt very voyeuristic and weird.
Pitchfork: Is there something about the gallery context you wanted to translate?
HM: I love museums, but I always thought there was something funny about a group of strangers silently staring at works of inanimate objects together. Each person is having a very personal and maybe even emotional experience, but it’s in the confines of an extremely quiet and sterile room. From a visual standpoint, I liked the idea of setting a video in a space that was like a blank slate.
Pitchfork: What’s the role of the onlookers in the gallery?
HM: I like the idea of reading into people’s faces when they’re not emoting. Some people are fascinated, some are sympathizing. We had some amazing faces in that video. The narrative of the video was about setting up this oppressive dynamic between her and the audience.
Watch “Cheerleader” by St. Vincent: