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In the Galleries - Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler: Single Wide CLOSES March 25 at the SLAM


A woman in a flannel shirt fixes her hair at a dressing table as a clock loudly ticks. The camera sweeps around to reveal the setting: a single-wide mobile home. The woman hurries out into the gloaming, carrying a teddy bear in a grocery bag, and a pickup truck starts. Back inside, the camera continues its house tour: a child's unkempt bedroom, a john with a sonorous leaky faucet, an overstocked kitchen. Swivel back to the woman, beating her fists against the steering wheel. Then back inside, as the trailer is rocked by a violent impact, and out again: It was the woman, who rammed it with her truck and is now struggling to get out of the car. Now there she is again, sitting at her dressing table, fixing her hair. Hubbard and Birchler's dizzying six-minute anti-drama, Single Wide (2002), the latest installment in the SLAM's New Media Series, is an exercise in perception. Like Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills, this work relies on the viewer's familiarity with cinematic and dramatic tropes: the plight of the single mother, the noirish implications of low light, the abundant cues of socioeconomic desperation. Indeed, you've seen it all before: Janet Leigh's distress at the wheel, John Garfield and Lana Turner's down-and-out desire for escape and revenge, the mise en scène of Roseanne. Lacking both narrative arc and resolution, Single Wide must grab you with your own story-making faculties. Is this careening freak-out a tragedy, a comedy or just another manifestation of the same old same old? Depends on how you look at it. Through March 25 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive (in Forest Park); 314-721-0072 or Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.)

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