Last week during a hot cloudy hour when we couldn’t swim in the pool (I had a housesitting gig at a friend’s house with a pool), Muck (or Michelle McAuliffe, artist extraordinarie) and I were driving around College Park, talking about everything from IKEA lightbulbs to hearing boys. “One of the perils of dating hearing boys,” I told her, “is having to be patient and smile while we teach them about what it’s like being Deaf and clearing up all the misconceptions they have about us. Like they think hearing aids restore hearing perfectly and that we can then hear Bob Marley just like them.” (Well I said something like that, anyway.)
“That’s exactly the point of my work, ‘First Crush’ ” Muck replied. Muck created this nine-minute-and-thirteen-second video in which she shows different people talking about their first crush. While the subject matter is interesting, how Muck subtitled the video is actually the point of the work. Muck did it on all on her own, meaning she created subtitles from what she thought she lipread and left it blank when she couldn’t understand. Exactly how a Deaf girl who wears hearing aids sometimes (with funky neon green molds) perceives and construes what people say when they speak English and don’t sign. When people think that because you’re wearing a hearing aid, you won’t have any trouble understanding them. And we all know that’s bullshit, which Muck loves to say and shows in her work.
Like Muck says in her thesis about ‘First Crush’, it’s “another example of this type of miscommunication. In this piece I interviewed friends and strangers, (asking them) to tell me about their first crush.” She wants her audience to “viscerally experience a layer of bullshit as they try to understand the content of this video.”
Luckily, you’ll have the chance to experience the bullshit for yourself. Muck’s work was selected for exhibition at Academy 2008, which showcases MFA and BFA work. It opens tomorrow (July 11) at 1341 H Street Northeast and Muck’ll be there for the opening. The show runs from July 11 to July 26. You can find more information at www.connercontemporary.com (You can get a peek of Muck’s work at slide 13).