Sordid Scandal is a new video essay and performance by acclaimed artist Amalia Ulman. In the form of a PowerPoint presentation, the work combines personal and family confessions with colonial histories.
Expect a darkly comic exploration of identity and artistic persona. How much does fiction shape the real? How is an artist’s identity formed?
This event is part of the Terra Foundation for American Art Series: New Perspectives
About Sordid Scandal
Amalia Ulman’s Sordid Scandal slips between the worlds of fiction and reality. It explores the stories we tell ourselves and the stories others tell about us. The 19 minute video essay combines footage from Ulman’s forthcoming feature film, a comedy about eviction called El Planeta, with a PowerPoint presentation and voiceover commentary by the artist about the film’s creation. We move back and forth through time as the Argentinian artist discusses her childhood in Spain and a family dispute against the backdrop of national histories and colonial legacies.
There are fake identities, hoaxes and conmen. There are tales of court cases and movie sets, lawyers and landlords, ghosts and graphics. It’s a collection of stories, memories and unreliable images. As Ulman says, ‘My fictional onscreen self had devoured the living and breathing me’.
The video references Ulman’s celebrated 2014 performance Excellences & Perfections, for which she created a fictional Instagram persona – a work which featured in the exhibition Performing for the Camera at Tate Modern in 2016.
Sordid Scandal is also inspired by the legacy of Andy Warhol’s life and work. As the current Tate Modern exhibition reveals, Warhol was fascinated by forms of appearance and personal identity. The exhibition examines the fears, desires and artistic evolution of a shy young man born to immigrant parents who would become a global symbol of American culture.
Warhol’s Self Portrait 1986 captures one of art’s most recognisable personas: the silver wig and the deadpan stare. But would Warhol agree with Amalia Ulman’s conclusion? 'An image of me didn’t suffice'.
Amalia Ulman is an Argentinian artist based in New York City. Her practice includes performance, installation, video and net-art works.