Christopher Miner: Mitchell-Innes & Nash

By Wilson, Michael | Artforum International, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Christopher Miner: Mitchell-Innes & Nash


Wilson, Michael, Artforum International


"I still don't know what to do with myself." The postcollegiate narrator of Christopher Miner's seventeen-minute video The Best Decision Ever Made, 2004, is a profoundly dissatisfied soul. Recalling a visit to his grandparents' house on the occasion of his grandmother's funeral (grandpa passed on some years previously, we learn), he contrasts their apparently effortless contentment with the frustrating direction-lessness of his own life. As the camera drifts around the unassuming home, with its threadbare backyard and bland small-town environs, the dolorous voice-over sketches an overqualified, under-motivated individual perpetually troubled by his own apparent inability to commit to a partner, a job, an interest, even an emotion other than nebulous ennui.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Though projected almost as large as the main wall in the gallery's sizable first room allowed, The Best Decision Ever Made is determinedly uncinematic, relying on slow-moving sequences of near-still shots of the departed's battered furniture and humble tchotchkes filmed in drab natural light. But the low-key visual style is entirely consistent with the video's downbeat theme and mood. As his account moves from memories of childhood to reflections on an unfulfilling present and still-uncertain future, Miner's narrator seems to echo other restless young men, from Albert Camus' Meursault to J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, or, in a more contemporary vein, Benjamin Kunkel's Dwight Wilmerding. A scene in which our antihero sits listening to an old Johnny Cash record and meditating Jesus's certainty that everything that happened to him, however appalling, was at least "part of the plan," wraps up this (autobiographical?) confession and leaves us similarly vacillating between engagement and boredom, empathy and exasperation.

The subject of the show's other video, Self-Portrait, 2000, certainly has more self-confidence, but otherwise does little to endear himself to the viewer. …

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