MY DEATH IS PENDING… BECAUSE.
A short film by Giorgio Angelini
The experiential film on No. 9 — the final performance in the series: MY DEATH IS PENDING… BECAUSE. Started in 1986, the body of work is by the internationally acclaimed, conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll. It emerges from a Rube Goldberg / stream-of-consciousness methodology. A conceptual process where something simple is extracted from a set of complex ideas that continue until the process comes to a complete stop.
The film takes on a dual experience. There is both Carroll’s artistic intention for the piece itself, and the act of filming it. It is both a literal documentation of a performance where a game is being played within another game. The game in this instance is the demolition derby and only a self-selecting group of the attending audience were aware of the other game. The film — MY DEATH IS PENDING… BECAUSE. mirrors that process as it also operates as a larger story about the confrontation of death.
Directed by Carroll’s close friend, Giorgio Angelini, the act of viewing the performance becomes a revisiting of the emotional torture of seeing a friend die and then brought back to life—not once, but
For an artist who states emphatically that she is against metaphor, the long-planned performance at Irwindale Speedway’s “Night of Destruction” can’t help but transform the act into a proxy, a re-performance of the death events—six months prior. One of the lead cardiologists from the team described the events as follows, “It was not a near-death performance, it was actual death.”
No. 9 was envisaged in 2006, and the decision to participate in the “Night of Destruction” in 2017 was due in part because Irwindale Speedway was slated for demolition in 2018 — to become an outlet mall. The 1985 Buick Riviera that was driven in the derby also had a limited lifespan. It was utilized in the work LATE , when Carroll intentionally crashed the 1985 Motor Trend Car of the Year into the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde in Munich on Maximillianstrasse in 2005.
The difference about this time and what we experience in the film is that Carroll is “very conscious” and an audience of over 15,000 people are watching. Where it operated as a conceptual pursuit by the artist about systems and process, for the filmmaker Angelini, it was revisiting the overwhelming helplessness of watching a friend wither away and die before your eyes …. Only to miraculously come back to life.
Playing with this sense of helplessness—the discomfort of being suddenly confronted with the news of a traumatic event, the denial of actionable information, and ensuing bombardment of erratic emotional shifts—the film itself attempts to recreate this anomolous sensation for the audience, through the demolition derby itself. The “Night of Destruction” is a peculiar and invigorating collective experience. One of the few human experiences that reduces you to a prolonged state of purely visceral emotions. An almost out of body occurrence, your intelligent brain escapes while your reptilian brain delights in the carnage of screeching wheels and imploding metal.
It’s a lot like witnessing a car crash.
Or, like watching someone have a heart attack.