Zoe Beloff: The Infernal Dream of Mutt and Jeff
In 2016 I curated the first New York installation of Zoe Beloff's multimedia work The Infernal Dream of Mutt and Jeff at Momenta Art in Brooklyn.
The exhibition took the form of a room-size installation simulating a mid-twentieth century studio for the production of worker instructional films. Beloff's project reanimates a selection of archival materials, revealing intersections between industrial labor management, the cinematic apparatus, and utopian visions of social progress. Framed by the destitute but determined Mutt and Jeff, a hapless duo of early cartoon characters who go on strike and attempt to animate themselves, the project foregrounds humor and slapstick as means of resisting a regime of highly regulated gestures.
A central three-channel projection sets found footage of worker efficiency exercises against documentation of folie à deux (induced or contagious psychosis), exposing ideology at work through repetition and reenactment. This sets off a chain reaction across a series of instructional charts, photographic motion studies, and sculptural objects.