Desirée Holman's The Magic Window project consists of a three channel video work and a series of colored pencil drawings on paper. The project’s title is borrowed from the first ad campaign selling televisions to the American public back in the fall of 1939. In the ad, the TV’s technology and screen were referred to as a “magic window.”
Structuring her practice in the same way a director approaches film making, Holman's The Magic Window was born out of two American sit-coms. Conceiving each film as an experiment in theatrics, Holman and her actors wear hand-made sculptural masks that are loosely modeled after characters from two TV families popular in the USA during the 1980's and 90's: the Connors from Roseanne and the Huxtables from The Cosby Show. The two sitcoms were chosen for their importance during the artist's youth as well as the fact that both remain in international syndication. The image and idea of these families has reached far beyond the geographical boundaries of the United States, leaving a persisting impression that verges on the iconic.
Each actor in this work is engaged in an awkward game of fantasy role-playing, drawing attention to the human proclivity to engage in fictional narratives, which, in effect, simulate quasi-experiences for the viewer. Through an active participation in the fantasy narrative of these shows, the work's actors engage in a type of identity workshop. Through this unorthodox way of working, Holman's work concerns itself with how far viewers are capable of projecting themselves into these fictional environments and how much these hyperreal environments tell us about ourselves.
The video combines two parallel narratives inspired by both the Connors and the Huxtables where both stories climax with all characters joining together in a rapturous & psychedelic dance scene. Weaving back and forth stylistically between an American sitcom television production and a D.I.Y. video art sensibility, the work aims to examine longing, psychological participation and media representations of family.
In the colored pencil drawings on paper, the imagery focuses on the television set, actors and masks, all used as props in the video. These objects are isolated and meticulously drawn as a way to create focus on these props and characters as the conduits of fantasy. Ultimately the work brings up the question: How much do we create these televisual fictions and how much do these fictions create us?