Tova Mozard, The Mismade Girl, video, photography, 1 October–7 November 2020

It is with great pleasure that we present Tova Mozard’s third solo exhibition at the gallery, The Mismade Girl. In her most comprehensive show at the gallery to date, Mozard shows a new video work as well as a series of photographs. Through her career, Tova Mozard has incessantly approached odd characters on the fringes of Los Angeles; psychics, performers, amateur comedians and actors. Growing up with the depiction of the city in film and television, Los Angeles offers Mozard a starting point for a continuous exploration of role play on the border of reality and fiction.

The video work The Mismade Girl is to a certain extent a portrait of a dying breed – the American style entertainer with an ever-gleaming smile on his face who is out of sync with his time. The magician Chuck Jones and Jan, his life and show partner, have developed the classic trick “Sawing a Lady in Half” into a magic routine where the parts are multiplied by four – “The Mismade Girl”, an act being copied around the world. But the video is ultimately a self-portrait by Mozard – she becomes the artwork as the director of the performance and through her participation in the trick.

In the video, Tova Mozard plays the woman who is sawn into pieces while lying in a box. Through role play, Mozard investigates several aspects of the act and its connotations in a wider sense. The female body is imaginary bisected, while at the same time holding the gaze of the audience where the attraction lies in the beauty and the horror of the act. At stake is a promise of a continuous rebirth, to gain affirmation through the gaze – demanding attention at a moment of perceived danger in front of a passive audience. The urge to please and at the same time take charge coexist in a moment of self-effacing.

When Tova Mozard documents and reveals the workings of the magician’s tricks she is also digging deep down into the core of symbolism. What does it mean to dismember a woman? How could this be perceived as entertainment? In the video, we follow the setting and preparation of the show, at the same time approaching the roles the participants play as performers; how they perceive themselves and their purpose.

Mozard’s interest in the mythology of Los Angeles is also triggered by stories and characters of the past. In the work Channeling Elizabeth Short, Mozard is posing outside the place of the Black Dahlia murder, where the mutilated body of Elizabeth Short was found in January 1947. As one of the most famous unsolved murder stories in US history, the horrendous incident has been the basis for numerous books and films. Unknown to Tova Mozard at the time, the photograph was actually shot by Mozard herself with the help of a self-timer on the very date of the murder. The photographic work adds yet another – and much more frightening – dimension to the innocent trick of bisecting the female body.

In the fiction of the magic performance there is a freedom of interpretation; the spectator may project their own fantasies during different parts of the game. During the endless repetition of the trick, despair and delight are intertwined in the same banal and repulsive magic act.

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