Bridget Moser is ready to roast
Like many an art school attendee, Montreal artist Bridget Moser started out assuming she’d be a painter when she grew up, but almost immediately decided that it was definitely not her thing. Since then, and long since graduated, Moser has moved toward a mix of performance and video art and internet-based projects, often integrating aspects of comedy and pop culture to tease out the meaning of cultural references.
Moser is unusually circumspect about the art forms she uses. “I have kind of a love-hate relationship with performance art. I find a lot of it pretty absurd, on a sort of base level, and very annoying to watch, almost. But then there’s something about that that really interests me, like what could be done with that absurdity and annoyance.”
She similarly takes on comedy, for example in a recent video called “Toilet Humor.” It’s a short animated piece featuring a toilet onstage in a comedy club, while the audience roars with canned laughter and a bartender can be seen fiddling around his sink in the background. The piece subtly lampoons comedy’s occasional laziness, turning to the fart joke, for example, as the lowest common denominator of what can be funny. She draws a parallel between this and a lot of performance art, where shock value is often deployed in lieu of cultural critique, “like Marina Abramovic sitting in a chair for like 800 hours, and that being the lowest common denominator of what performance art can be.”
Her current and constantly evolving project is a three and a half-hour-long comedy roast, in which she targets objects and concepts rather than people, what she calls “a super long-form, terribly boring, not always very funny stand-up” act. She’s still developing the piece, and is soon headed to a residency with Reggie Watts and shock-jock performance artist Michael Portnoy at the Banff Centre.
Her process itself seems grounded in a simultaneous self-critique and interrogation of the art form. “It always starts with what seems like a dumb idea, but a dumb idea that seems really appealing for some reason. Sometimes I’ll just think of a set-up or an image that seems kind of funny to me, and then there’s the process of investigating or trying to amplify that, setting up a network to tease that idea out, trying to figure out what is or is not funny about it.” Ultimately, grounding her work in pop cultural references as placeholders for meaning lets her interrogate how these connections work, to dig a little deeper into what’s funny, what’s art, and what’s totally not. ■
Check out Moser’s video art at bridgetmoser.com