UAG’S Emerging Artist Series Presents Jessica Chastain, Three Filmic Works by Maura Brewer



IRVINE, Calif. (September 1, 2016) -- The University Art Galleries (UAG) at UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts is proud to present Jessica Chastain by MFA alum Maura Brewer and curated by UAG Director Juli Carson. The exhibition will be presented in the University Art Gallery opening Saturday, October 1 with a reception open to the public from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm and will exhibit through Saturday, December 10, 2016. 

The latest in the UAG’s Emerging Artist Series, the exhibition includes three filmic works by Maura Brewer, produced between 2014 and 2016. Each work takes as its site a recent film by the actress Jessica Chastain, starting with Zero Dark Thirty in 2012, followed by Interstellar in 2014 and the ending with the 2015 film The Martian. In all three films, Chastain plays a similar character: a high-achieving career woman who is dedicated to the pursuit of a non-romantic male counterpart, from Osama Bin Laden to Mark Watney (Matt Damon). In each case, Chastain’s role speaks the language of popular feminism; her talent and work ethic have propelled her into a successful career in a largely male realm. She makes choices that drive forward the action of the plot. But Chastain’s agency within the film is at once undermined by the institutions and structures within which she purports to operate, be it the state – the CIA or NASA – or her own father. As such, Jessica Chastain is always acting but never under her own power.

As in all Brewer’s work, this installation presents Hollywood film as a site for analysis and deconstruction. Accordingly, Chastain’s characters are presented within metaphorical landscapes that speak to the contradictory nature of her cinematic position: alternately a drone or a satellite, Chastain is always “triangulated” by an alien agent. Such that, if she is the product of a feminist rhetoric – one that prizes agency within a field of constraint – her demand for action is simultaneously mitigated by the reality of inaction. In this way, one could say that “Jessica Chastain” – a placeholder for the feminine subject in this moment in time – is depressed.

“In our ‘post-civil rights’ moment of a female presidential nominee, same-sex marriage and transgender rights, Maura Brewer’s film trilogy, Jessica Chastain, addresses something that lingers in our collective unconscious: an Oedipal orthodoxy – characterized by gender norms of the post-war era – that simply insists.” - Juli Carson

Note to editors: Selected high-resolution images for publicity use only may be downloaded from PRESS PHOTOS.

Posted Date: 
Thursday, September 1, 2016 (All day)