Suzie Silver's Bedazzled: Stars, Pagans and Cosmos, a collection of video works which includes collaborations with Hilary Harp and Eric Moe, is all about desire. Ranging from hero worship to gluttony to throbbing lust, the work examines the meaning of yearning in all of its guises, from the perspectives of both the covetous and the coveted.
"Tri-Stan," Silver's collaboration with composer Eric Moe, focuses on Moe's concert monodrama, based on a short story by David Foster Wallace updating the Greek myth of Echo and Narcissus. The mythology thrives, with satyrs and nymphs aplenty, and is joined by a collision between high culture through grand opera and low culture via bad television; the intersection of reality and fantasy; and the demands of stalking.
"Nebula" utilizes the glass sculptures of Hilary Harp, which Silver has documented under pulsing light to create an entrancing, shape-shifting loop of movement and color. If NASA had moved mission control to Studio 54 in 1982, it would have looked and felt like this.
With "Her Royal Majesties Parts 1 and 2: The Queen of Hearts and The Queen of Diamonds," Silver dives into the deification of actresses, using clips from '30s gems The Scarlet Empress, Cleopatra, Queen Christina and Marie Antoinette. Garbo and Dietrich qualify as modern goddesses, receiving adulation every bit as extensive as ancient deities worshipped through offerings of the body back when religion had sexuality; that they spent their mortal lives earthbound makes them no less cosmic.
Silver takes their luminosity further by making them interplanetary; they're still lit with the iridescent brightness we're accustomed to seeing them bathed in, but now they pirouette within snowflakes, drip with jewels, obliterate the moon with the brilliance of their light, and take over the sky. Through Silver's lens, we see them gorgeous, glorious, and utterly, irrefutably inhuman -- then we realize that the ones we've venerated do not, in fact, have all that much to them. They're all confection, piles of sticky icing with no cake beneath, and we have to wonder what there is in us that lets us get sucked in by sugar and artifice.
But Silver, who teaches at Carnegie Mellon University, doles out the substance galore, copiously enhancing it with pretty people and shiny things, humor and generosity. Within this sweetness, there's much to chew on.
Bedazzled: Stars, Pagans and Cosmos continues through March 9. Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside. 412-361-0873
- Re-Greta: From Suzie Silver's "Her Royal Majesties Parts 1 and 2: The Queen of Hearts and The Queen of Diamonds."