You aren’t allowed to film in the museum, but FIN managed to get away with making an entire music video there – here we talk renaissance art, pretending to take pictures and evil
Covertly shot on cellphones at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daughters features a special collaborative performance by FIN (Rebecca Fin Simonetti), FlucT (Monica Mirabile & Sigrid Lauren), and Eartheater (Alexandra Drewchin). The video weaves the collaborative site-specific performance with native advertisements, found footage, and a video advertising pink insulation cutting tools.
The performers taunt and menace their surroundings with a series of melodramatic vignettes, inserting their female bodies into the patriarchal institutional space. Towards the end of the video a final nod is made to the Koch family – a major underwriter for the Met – ultimately pointing to the larger power structures that influence our cultural beliefs and social narratives, both present and past.
Why did you shoot at the MET?
FIN: The MET is one of my favorite places, I find the beauty and history to be transcendental. That being said, you have to look with a critical eye – especially when you are being seduced by beauty and craftsmanship. The MET is an interesting location because it is filled with sculptures and images that are saturated with meaning and power. As a location, it’s rich territory.
Do you want to explain some of the artworks in the video?
FIN: Sure, yeah – I wanted to get some shots in front of the armour. I am so interested tactics of protecting the body, and then how they become aestheticised. Also, there is one particular sculpture that I love of a woman with a fucked up face – it’s just titled ‘Marble statue of an old woman’. She is so terrifying.
What was your inspiration from ancient and renaissance eras?
FIN: Well, in my other work, like my drawings, I’m inspired by the imagery and compositions from the 14th-16th century, so I’m tuned in to work from that time period. For the video, I specifically wanted to be interacting with art from Ancient Greek and Roman empires. The marble sculptures function almost like media – they showcase the idealized body of the time, they relay social roles and moral narratives. These cultures have had a lasting impact on the western world, and their ideas were forcefully disseminated through colonialism. Their legacies reverberate into the modern world.
“You aren’t allowed to shoot video at the MET, so we had to work covertly. You are allowed to take photographs, so whoever was shooting would pretend to be taking a picture” – FIN
What is it like creating the scenes with FlucT and Eartheater? Why did you want to work with these friendships in the context of “Daughters”?
FIN: Yeah – those guys are my best friends and on-going collaborators. Those women are radical. Inspiring in the truest sense. In preparation for the video, I had written out a series of vignettes. For example, I knew I wanted to do a scene where we administer artificial tears, a scene where we reference La Pieta, a few scenes of ‘flocking’, etc… Once we got to the museum, the shoot itself was very playful and spontaneous, with each of us taking the lead at different times in terms of how we created the vignettes and interacted with the surroundings. For example, when the group of us are moving in unison in front of the armour, we are ‘flocking’ Sigrid Lauren’s movements. Flocking means we are mirroring the improvised movements of the person who is ‘directing’.
Why shoot on cell phones?
FIN: Well you aren’t allowed to shoot video at the MET, so we had to work covertly. You are allowed to take photographs, so whoever was shooting would pretend to be taking a picture… sometimes even saying ‘one, two, three… CHEESE’ out loud. I wasn’t concerned with the footage looking ‘good’ – it was more about documenting the performance and ideas.
Why did you want to highlight the Koch brother's contributions to the MET?
FIN: I think it’s important to acknowledge the presence of evil where it exists, especially when it is discretely tucked into the cultural landscape I’m absorbing.
What is the significance of staging your music video in public space? Is this an intervention, a guerrilla tactic, or just a normal afternoon?
FIN: I wasn’t thinking about it in a particular way. I have some history of doing this type of performance in public space – like my ‘Part of Your World’ piece, where I sang from the Little Mermaid to workers in sweatshops in China. That piece is more obviously an intervention.
How did people interact with you while you were filming?
FIN: Occasionally people would approach us or watch what we were doing. The scene with the little girl was a completely spontaneous interaction. She came over with her mum to talk to us, and then asked for a photo. I used the footage of us posing for her mum’s camera as the opening scene. It couldn't have been more perfect.
Talk to me about your new album ICE PIX. What should people expect?
FIN: Yes – I’m so excited to release it! Sonically, it blends orchestral, industrial, and etherial elements. There are a handful of songs about Ted Hughes. I spend a ton of time on the production, so the sounds and compositions are incredibly intricate and intentional – whereas vocals are often my first take. I usually record directly into Ableton using my laptop microphone. The vocals are very intimate and candid, which I think is necessary because I labour over the rest of the music. I’ve been so embedded in this album, so it’s hard for me to know what people will hear. I think of ICE PIX as an artwork. The difference is just semantic – music is no more different from drawing than drawing is from sculpture, you know? It’s the just the medium I’m working with. ICE PIX could have been a series of paintings instead.