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All About Meeeeee!

DiverseWorks showcases the video of self-absorption.

But here's the tricky thing about art video. You have to watch the whole freakin' thing. It's not like a painting or a sculpture — you can figure out pretty quickly whether it's worth spending time on those. Video requires a time commitment; walk away halfway through, and you might miss something. Or you might sit through the whole thing and end up really pissed off, wanting that half hour of your life back.

Thankfully, I ended up watching all six minutes of Okumura's Daydream Believer. (Okay, it's only six minutes, but there's a lot of video in this show). After more footage of this self-absorbed kid's fucking boring day, the video "skips" and things go all Matrix. An outlet appears in the back of Okumura's head. In a scene shot in the empty DiverseWorks gallery, curator Rachel Cook and an assistant "unplug" the artist from a video player. Hey buddy, your hip little art star existence was all an illusion — welcome to Houston! It's a witty, masterfully redeeming and self-aware scene.

Even with successful work, watching video of people making art about themselves wears thin after a while. It's worse when the results are unsuccessful, as in the case of Wynne Greenwood. In Peas (2007), the artist constructs a figure using video and a giant paper doll-like cardboard cutout.

Okay, Laurel Nakadate...
Okay, Laurel Nakadate...
...and Wynne Greenwood, we are looking at you.
...and Wynne Greenwood, we are looking at you.

The video shows Greenwood lying back and resting on her elbows, her shirt pulled up. She has drawn a face on her belly and placed a pillow next to her body to extend the drawing field, inking a torso to go along with the face on her belly. She creates the lower half of the body with giant cardboard hips and legs. A square is cut out of the crotch of the cardboard, and a video of an actual naked woman's crotch is shown in the opening. Lovely, a twat-cam. The artist has drawn little cartoonish faces around her (?) pussy, which appear and disappear.

All the while, there is some kind of intermittent, tearful dialog going on with the artist and her stomach, or is it her pubic hair? The audio snippets I could catch ("If you have a problem with that then that's your problem...you jerk...what's the problem here") did nothing to redeem or improve the piece. The way Greenwood's using video and sculptural elements is intriguing, but conceptually, I can't see that this holds much appeal for anyone other than the artist and maybe those viewers in the market for naked-crotch video.

People have probably always been self-­absorbed, but never before has it been so public, so widespread or so acceptable. Sometimes it seems like a whole generation has been told by their parents, "Honey, everything you do is wonderful, of course everyone wants to know everything about you!" — and believed it. The self can be rich artistic fodder, but you've got to have some sort of objectivity. Just 'cause it's interesting to you, does not automatically mean it's interesting to other people.

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