In a dark humor vein, "Dessert & Disorders" links together the ideas of the final course of a meal and human obsessive-compulsive disorders. Murky impulses and mental dysfunctions are presented or “served” as a treat, through a combination of video and stills.
Schreiner’s exploration of problematic states of mind is conveyed through self-representations consisting of obsessive repetition of the same actions. Self-representation and prominent use of the body have been key elements for feminist interpretations of works of art by female artists, such as Ana Mendieta and Cindy Sherman. Nonetheless, Schreiner’s work significantly differs from Mendieta’s and Sherman’s. Compared to Mendieta, Schreiner does not disguise the body in natural environments in order to signify a return to Mother Nature; instead, she emphasizes and dramatizes the presence of the body through the use of sensuality. And unlike Sherman, Schreiner’s use of self-representation does not involve playing stereotypical female roles in front of the camera; self-representation is, for Schreiner, instrumental to portraying mental states that affect behavior and the body, regardless of gender. Her video portrayals are often accompanied with flowers, glitter and food-smashing gestures in what seems to simultaneously be an attempt to establish an imaginary world filled with magic, and an effort to destroy it. Her preoccupation with the theme of an existence, spoiled by illness, reflects Schreiner’s concern with the idea of vulnerability, an interest that also appears in her previous work. In her portrayals of emotionally and psychologically wounded minds, food and flower crushing and/or glitter and flower embellishments are indicative of a pursued desire to gain control and break the confinement of the mind. Somewhat playfully embedded in the short videos’ narration, those actions reveal an aggressive and more confrontational predisposition in facing human fragility.
In performing acts such as smashing, smearing, eating and glittering, Schreiner brings emphasis on the body as medium. Bodily gestures become, in Schreiner’s videos, compulsive actions that paradoxically signify empowerment through their morbid and comical repetition, as if saying the same thing multiple times makes it more effective. Furthermore, the body assumes a preeminent role in demonstrating the link between the mind and the body itself, becoming the canvas through which the artist expresses herself.
at the Bill Hodges Gallery June 2 - July 2 2011