Suburban Queen

Mindy Faber

This video is no longer available

Screaming from the Inside: Week #2 Suburban Queen
Mindy Faber

3 Minutes

Artist Cinemas

July 25–July 31, 2022

This classic feminist tape deviates from David Byrne’s and Jonathan Demme’s popular 1980s versions of suburban life, True Stories. Rather than poking sarcastic fun at the woman locked in the split-level, Suburban Queen poignantly evokes a daughter’s longings. Portraying the relationship of a mother and daughter inextricably bound yet puzzled by each other’s lives, Faber recounts her frustration with her mother’s depression and passivity, and her fantasy of how her mother might transcend these conditions.

Suburban Queen is the second installment of Screaming from the Inside, an online program of films and accompanying texts convened by Camille Henrot as the eleventh cycle of Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film.

The film is presented alongside a text response by Mathilde Henrot.

Screaming from the Inside runs in six episodes released every Monday from July 18 through August 29, 2022, streaming a new film each week accompanied by a commissioned interview or response published in text form.

On Suburban Queen
By Mathilde Henrot

Suburban America, the mid ‘80s. The house is framed by bits, by objects surrounding it on the outside: the mailbox, the car, the water, a chair, wood, waste, the grill, water pipes. Water, fire, but mostly water circle the house. In ancient times castles were surrounded by water by way of protection, which could also become isolation.

“I wanted my mum to be an African suburb queen.”

Mindy Faber’s mother, Patricia, has her hair wrapped in a dhuku. Her curvy figure enhances her physical authority, and the low- angle shot further imposes her majesty. Her way of looking at the camera is both proud and angry; her eyes are intensely focused. Filming is an act of sublimation of reality: The white middle-class mother is transformed by the director into an African queen, in full power and control of her destiny.

“I wanted my mum to be an African suburb queen.”

The voice of Mindy Faber is heard, like a song—a coach or a guru— exhorting her mother in the forever-lost past to pervert then declare war on domesticity. But past dreams have passed; instead, the present image of her mother’s rebellion is lived on film: a queen, a witch surrounded by fire, yet one who, through her fluidity, through blood and water, is able to create life. Through this dreamed mother, Mindy Faber escapes her own shame of her mother and her deep fear of looking, of being like her.

A woman/mother becomes genetically modified by each child she bears. While pregnant, a woman passes her chromosomes to her child and her own chromosomes are also modified by the child’s. These are called chimera chromosomes, after the mythological chimera (from the Greek χίμαιρα, or chímaira, meaning “she-goat’ ), a hybrid, fire-breathing female monster composed of multiple animal parts.

Society has created and imposed on women the image of the perfect mother, locked in her mental and physical prison of perfection. Perfection of the body, perfection in the education of the children, perfection of the house, perfection at hiding her strength. But now the chimera steps out to show its face and shout out loud and louder and louuuuuuuuder “I am a woman, I can bleed for days and not die.”

Mathilde Henrot is the founder of the platforms Festival Scope Pro (for film professionals) and Festival Scope (for cinephiles), presenting films from the most prestigious international film festivals. She currently curates the Locarno Film Festival, the Sarajevo Film Festival and the Villa Medici Film Festival.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

Feminism, Film
Motherhood and Reproduction, Humor & Comedy, Video Art, Domesticity, Everyday Life, Family
Return to Screaming from the Inside
Return to Artist Cinemas

Mindy Faber is a media artist, activist, curator, and educator. Grounded in biting humor, a surreal sensibility, and engaging personal narrative, her works are informed by political and feminist thought, exploring the construction of female identity as a result of social expectations and limitations. Her video Delirium, about the history of female hysteria, won over a dozen awards including the prestigious Grand Prize in Video at the 1994 Berlin Film Festival. In her role as a youth media activist and educator, Faber’s signature approach is defined by a unique inter-generational collaborative process that helps youth explore radical new cultural forms such as games for change, political remix, virtual worlds, online interactivity, and data visualization. After attaining her MFA in Video Art from the School of the Art institute of Chicago, Faber served as the Associate Director of the Video Data Bank for twelve years. Upon receiving a 1996 Rockefeller Foundation Intercultural Fellowship, Faber shifted her creative focus towards youth, collaborating with teens to produce several award-winning works. She then served as Director of Distribution for Video Machete and taught media arts at Evanston High School for several years. Through her group, Open Youth Networks, Mindy has constructed new curricular model programs based on participatory media and learning, including the Fair Use Remix Institute (FURI) and YouthLAB (Listening Across Borders).


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