Have You Never Let Someone Else Be Strong?
September 19, 2015—January 10, 2016
The centerpiece of her exhibition at MMoCA, a 22-minute looping video also titled Have You Never Let Somebody Else Be Strong? focuses on the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Featuring a rotating program of choreographed water performances, the display is set within an 8.5 acre man-made lake and is controlled by a complex network of pipes and nozzles propelling streams of water up to 460 feet into the air.
Rather than capturing the full panorama of the Bellagio fountains, Schoen focuses her lens on a small segment of the expansive water feature. Her intentionally limited composition frames a handful of nozzles sitting right below of the surface of the artificial lake. Materializing from the pool-like waters, the mechanized jets emit in a series of patterned bursts before re-submerging beneath the surface. Powerful eruptions alternate with comparatively enfeebled spurts. When viewing Schoen’s tightly cropped imagery of the fountain’s punctuated choreography, phallic associations and references to bodily emissions are impossible to ignore.
The tight framing in the video also allows for the artificial pool to reveal its micro-climates and variations; there are moments that become oceanic tempests, storms that clear into refracted mists in seconds. The unexpected intrusion of natural phenomena into this hyper-artificial space echoes Schoen’s other video in this exhibition: The Second Oldest Amusement, filmed in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. In this short observational piece, the fountains are under construction in a winter landscape, and the grounds’ peacock unexpectedly ambles in to make an appearance, and perform his own display.