Mommy Dearest: An Interview With Robert Melee

December 8, 2014 7:53 PM

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When I told Robert Melee to choose whatever "Mommy" video he wanted to include in Mama's Boy, a group exhibition I curated for White Columns in 2003, I knew he'd pick the most provocative example. High Life, 2002, opens with a scene of his mom, Rose, clad only in stockings, drag make-up, and a cheap wig, running down a dark street. Shot through a car window, the classical music that accompanies her night time jog underscores the work's absurdist tone.

Soon, the video cuts to a real-time documentation of Rose guzzling a 40-ounce bottle of Miller High Life. Amidst offstage giggles and minute adjustments to the bare bones set in which she sits, Melee impatiently prompts "Mommy" to finish her beer. Rose obediently struggles to chug it down, and in th...

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