The Edna Experiments: Blithe Riley
New Media Room and Liminal Space
May 7 - June 3, 2011
Opening Reception May 7, 6-9 PM
The Edna Experiments is a multi-media installation project based on the found diaries of a rural housewife named Edna. The diaries span approximately 15 years—covering the late 1950′s to early 1970′s— and are full of meticulous everyday details but no emotions whatsoever. The books are records of an edited life, where what is preserved is terse, systematic and rooted in domestic and rural labor. Insight is gained only through repetition of action (washing, ironing, mending), as very few entries stand out above the others. In addition, Edna’s writing forces us to interpret and imagine what we assume are the missing details. That act of interpretation is a key point of interest in the project.
The diaries not only represent records of personal discipline (Edna wrote almost every day), they are also archives of banal moments that rarely get memorialized. Edna’s diaries question what constitutes a lived life. They reveal how the things we leave behind frame our lives after we die.
Blithe Riley works in video, performance & installation. Her practice investigates systems that regulate human behavior, including self-induced structures as well as those inflicted from external sources. Riley received a BFA from Alfred School of Art and Design in 1999, and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005 where she taught courses in video and performance. In 2009 she was a resident of Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and an Aferro Studio resident in 2010. Her work has screened nationally & internationally at venues such as the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Kitchen, Roulette, Broadway 1602 Gallery and Monkeytown in New York City, The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and The European Media Arts Festival in Germany. She has taught classes at Columbia College Chicago, Parsons, and George Washington University. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Riley also makes site-specific video and performance work with artist Mary Coble. Together they have made work in an abandoned spring house in Maine, and in a soon-to-be demolished housing project in Northeast London. Their collaboration is represented by Conner Contemporary Art in Washington, DC.
Gallery Aferro site
Blithe Riley site