Canadian-born artist Erica Eyres studied at The Glasgow School of Art and continues to live in the Scottish city. She gave us an insight into her practice which includes imaginary girlfriends, mermaids and the Dallas TV show.

Erica Eyres Baby Marleena
Baby Marleena by Erica Eyres

My work is primarily concerned with narrative, and is realised through series of drawings, videos, and sculptures. Frequently borrowing from the aesthetics of low-budget television, my videos centre around narratives based on my own family or people I have known, and are re-told by exploiting elements of storytelling to create works of fiction that allude to the personal. The stories’ biographical fallacy is then furthered by the use of a stand-in narrator, whose presence contributes to a mechanism that I refer to as “the estranged voice.”

Related to Bertolt Brecht’s “distancing effect”, the estranged voice describes a narrator who reveals an unexpected detachment from the story they present. This process of estrangement allows me to complicate the viewer’s understanding of the author’s subjective truth and to problematise the notion of the ‘autobiographical’. The use of dark humour is also significant to my practice, as it enables me to create points of entry for otherwise off-putting stories, and to subvert the act of storytelling.

The Male Epidemic is a news broadcast that follows the progress of a fatal disease that is wiping out the world’s male population. The video features interviews with “experts” and one of the last living men.

Baby Marleena documents a day in the life of Tamarra and her daughter, Baby Marleena. The Baby Marleena is, what is commonly known as, a mermaid, and therefore must be kept in water at all times. For this reason, Tamarra has kept Baby Marleena in a full bathtub for her whole life, preventing her from suffocating and dying. For the last two years, Tamarra has been taking Baby Marleena onto the road, bringing her to different hotels across the nation, and opening the doors to the public. The visitors are charged a small amount of money and they are allowed to stand in the bathroom doorway to experience the miracle of Baby Marleena.

Imaginary Girlfriend is based loosely on 1980s family sitcoms, and features a boy named Steven and his imaginary girlfriend Amanda. Steven is constantly tormented by Amanda, being asked to do things that leave him in embarrassing situations. Simultaneously, the video reveals the suffocating and inappropriate relationship between Steven and his mother.

Pam’s Dream is based on an episode of the 1980s television show Dallas, and features child actors in the roles. The video is inspired by the season 8 finale of Dallas in which Pam Ewing awakes to find that all recent events, starting with the death of her husband Bobby, were merely a dream…though seemingly “so real”.

In Autobiography II, tightly framed images of the museum’s dioramas assume an ambiguous quality that alludes to a film set or some otherworldly site. The video’s narrative follows the course of human evolution, beginning with early forms of under-water life, moving towards dinosaurs, mammals, and eventually humans. At this point, the mannequins devolve to become abstract.

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