This is an online video component for Caitlin Rueter's solo exhibition "How To Be" at O'Born Contemporary from June 9 – July 14, 2012 in Toronto. This video displays all ten of the video portraits in unison. "Moral Deportment" is one of three exercises featured in Rueter's solo exhibition "How To Be". Find more information about the exhibition here: oborncontemporary.com/exhibitions/2012_Caitlin_Rueter_Solo.html. Read more about "Moral Deportment" below.
"Moral Deportment" explores instructions for "correct" behavior. In this exercise I have solicited the participation of ten New York-based women artists. I filmed each subject as I read to her a passage from a young ladies' manual that concerns one of ten, "moral properties called for in the daily conduct and habitual deportment of young ladies": piety, integrity, fortitude, charity, obedience, consideration, sincerity, prudence, activity and cheerfulness. Together we parsed the text to consider what it meant in its historical context and potential contemporary applications. In pondering the text, our conversations were fluid and diverse -- sometimes personal, sometimes perfunctory, sometimes confounding, always illuminating -- perhaps not unlike those of the manuals' original users.
I have paired the footage from these interactions with portraits of girls and women from early 19th century American folk art. I extracted the figures from the paintings and superimposed my subjects into their spaces.
In other projects I have used my body as "the body in general." Here, I replaced the figures from the portraits with modern day subjects-women who, together, represent me-artists with whom I have shown or collaborated, each of whom has influenced my thinking. Their relationship with me is important to our personal interaction in creating the footage. It is also important to my interaction with the viewer, which is mediated by these other bodies.
In Moral Deportment, I am both instructing the subject and engaging in a conversation with her. I'm thinking, again, about history. History is didactic and dialectical; it both instructs and plays itself out in discourse and in conflict.
-Caitlin Rueter, 2012
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