LA based filmmaker Mariah Garnett’s debut exhibition at Louis B. James Gallery features one video work, Full Burn (2014). Displayed in full and split-screen, the film portrays former combat military vets describing the impact of their military experiences on their post-duty civilian lives. The gallery astutely installed the work in their basement space, a wise choice that amplifies the psychological claustrophobia of the subjects. The video includes scenes of a vet performing a ROFLing session (a form of bodywork that deals with the connective tissues), while another vet meticulously cleans his motorcycle and another is set on fire as a stuntman.
The actions of ROFLing, taking extreme care for one’s possessions, and being a stunt double each require almost mindless and perhaps cathartic repetition. Through these rote actions, an awareness of the self emerges, producing a state of conscious reincarnation. By contrasting the extreme imagery of the stuntman, the mundane cleaning of a motorcycle, and slow meticulous bodywork, the contrived activities directed by Garnett evoke the metamorphosis of essential experience – time, memory, physical being – after an individual has endured the atrocities of war.
Mariah Garnett successfully confronts a subject at the core of American pride in an inquisitive way, allowing the viewer into a world that may not be comfortable but certainly merits our greater thought and attention.
-Brooke Tomiello, Administative Assistant