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Suzanne Bocanegra’s immersive movie installation Valley (2018) presents 8 girls artists reenacting Judy Garland’s wardrobe test for the 1967 cult film Valley of the Dolls. Garland’s casting as a direct in the tale of a few women undone by medicines and clearly show organization was temporary struggling from addiction herself and reputedly unpredictable, Garland was fired just days into filming. She took the costumes with her and wore them in concert events right until her death from a barbiturate overdose in 1969. The wardrobe test is the only footage of Garland from the film that survives. In it, she appears to be fragile as she poses awkwardly in a series of outfits. Inspite of having grown up a star, she seems self-acutely aware and doubtful of herself in entrance of the digicam.
Bocanegra labored with the studio employees of the Cloth Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia to painstakingly reproduce Garland’s Valley of the Dolls costumes for the 8 performers in Valley. Bocanegra forged in the role of Garland 8 powerful women whose own work includes various aspects of performance: poet Anne Carson, choreographer and dancer Deborah Hay, artist Joan Jonas, singer and actor Alicia Hall Moran, actor and activist Tanya Selvaratnam, actor Kate Valk, artist Carrie Mae Weems, and ballerina Wendy Whelan.
In this mesmerizing installation, eight large-scale, synchronized projections present the costumed performers specifically recreating Garland’s gestures and expressions from her wardrobe take a look at. By turns humorous and poignant, Valley strikes a redemptive—if uncanny—note, revealing each the vulnerability and electrical power of functionality.