Marnie Weber emerged in Los Angeles’s punk music and performance art scene of the 1980s, and has since become known for installations in which sculpture, film, music, costuming, and collage come together to form whole, fantastical worlds. Weber’s homespun, haunted-house aesthetic evokes the gothic side of American folkloric traditions, imparting a sense of old-time magic to narratives of lost innocence. Her dream-like films feature a cast of motley characters, including animals, monsters, trees, and clowns, with supernatural female protagonists at their centers. In the artist’s macabre fairy tales, these figures navigate uncanny landscapes on journeys of transformation.
In 2005, Weber debuted her filmic installation Songs That Never Die, which introduced the Spirit Girls, a fictitious all-female rock band whose members died tragically in the 1970s. Wearing white masks, long wigs, and Victorian attire, the Spirit Girls were inspired by the male theatrical rock bands of Weber’s youth. The band also reflects Weber’s interest in the American Spiritualist movement of the 19th century, in which young women were the central public actors, performing séances before audiences. Like the Spiritualists, who ushered in the nascent women’s rights movement, the Spirit Girls’ music delivers messages of liberation from the great beyond. With Weber performing as lead singer, the Spirit Girls appeared in three subsequent films and numerous live performances over the course of a decade. This focused exhibition of recent acquisitions from MCASD’s collection presents three Spirit Girls films—Songs That Never Die (2005), A Western Song (2007), and The Campfire Song (2008)—in conjunction with sculptures, photographs, and a related early film, The Forgotten (2001).
Marnie Weber: Songs That Never Die and Other Stories is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and made possible by lead underwriting support from Sandra and Arthur Levinson with additional support from Karen Fox. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.
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