In my triptych video “Being Charlie Chaplin”, I deconstruct and perform in “His New Job” – one of Charlie Chaplin’s popular silent movies created at Essanay Studios in Chicago. I embed myself as a female performer into these scenes in order to satirically interfere with the central character to demand a lead role in the movie. Inspired by early feminist film theory, I compete for the male’s role to offer a different representation of women on screen. Rather than displaying the typical convention of “a passive and powerless female character”, I try to take the role from Charlie Chaplin by auditioning for the role myself. The center screen displays only the scenes where he is alone as a novice actor, who stumbles upon the job in the absence of the actual actor. The other two screens contain only the scenes where all genders are present as well as selected recontextualized text from the movie. My goal is to reimagine gender and power dynamics of cinema history in order to carve out a more important place for female leads.
Originally created as a commission for Open House Chicago organized by Chicago Architecture Foundation, the premise of the site-specific video installation was “If these walls could speak, they would tell many rich stories.” My goal was to change the story of the site’s history and carve out a more important place for other female leads..