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"Tova Mozard" by Bettina Schultz

Tova Mozard

With her silky smooth and richly furnished visual style Tova Mozard works within the realm of photography and film. However, in her case these are not separate artistic media but rather utterances of the same thought. Her photos read as movie stills, and her beautifully composed films could be paused at any given moment to form a perfect frame. A large part of her most recent body of work was created during her stay in Los Angeles where she assisted the artist James Welling and attended the California Institute of Arts. This mecca of the entertainment industry proved a perfect source of inspiration for an artist fascinated with the blurry line between reality and fiction.

Just Visiting this Planet of 2005 is a rather playful example of the artist’s scrutiny of the margins of society. In this case her video is based on interviews conducted with science fiction fans that use the genre as a kind of escapism but also a way towards what they perceive as the potential for a greater underlying truth and rebel thought. The voices of the interviewees are computerised to form abstract pulsating shapes and colours, reminiscent of aura photography or close-ups of the movement of planets. This fascination with the paranormal, the mysterious, deviant and inexplicable runs like a thread throughout her work.

Mozard’s films are often triggered by encounters with people. Her interview style in combination with the very deliberate and filmic choice of setting and lighting puts a twist on the genre of documentary film. Although she is never seen in the picture, one has a definite sense of her subjects speaking to and performing for the person holding the camera, which in turn becomes a direct conversation with the viewer. An unsettling relationship is gradually formed where the viewer slowly moves from the power of seeing to the discomfort of scrutiny, as the position of the subject becomes more vulnerable and we find ourselves squirming with them.

A sense of narcissism runs through video pieces such as Extra Story, Cowboy Russ and Leona Babette. We are confronted with people from the fringes of the entertainment industry- people who are driven by the desire to perform and be seen. The story of their lives that they present to us is an inextricable weave of reality and fiction, of acting and being. These narratives of failed fame, the flipside of glamour, bear in many ways the atmosphere of longing, nostalgia and alienation found in the portrayal of circus life. However, even in works such as Wall of Love, showing a woman who has an objectum-sexual disorder and is in love with the Berlin wall, Mozard manages to keep her work beyond the realm of freak show. The fascination is rather more empathic, a kind of discovery of the breadth of human need for fiction and fantasy.

Bettina Schultz