We All Must Play Our Parts: Julia Page at MISSION 17
We All Must Play Our Parts included three pieces by Julia Page that explored the role of minor characters in sustaining ideological constructs and social institutions.
In the wall-mounted video, Heir Apparent, Page examined the part played by the President’s daughter in shaping his image and establishing his political authority. Drawing upon documentary footage, she constructed a series of portraits that are at once personal and political, addressing the love of daughters for their fathers, the theatrics of paternity in the office of the Presidency, and the intersection between the two.
In a three-channel video installation, titled We All Must Play Our Parts, Page called attention to the strict formula of the long-running television series Law and Order. By focusing on the recurrent scene of “the reading of the verdict,” she specifically examined the myth of the “everyman” that it proffers in its presentation of the jury and the role television plays more generally in sustaining our sense of justice and the authority of the law.
And in First Kills, Page explored the ritual indoctrination of children into the tradition of hunting in America, through poster-sized enlargements of articles found in newspapers across the country, documenting the coming-of-age marked by a child’s first successful killing of an animal.
The show examined the social and political mythologies that shape American culture with particular attention to the supporting actors in some of the nation’s defining dramas. How are these minor figures essential to sustaining the authorities that shape our society? Do they act willfully or are they merely pawns in someone else’s show? What parts do we—or rather must we—play in contemporary social institutions? And what is the necessity that compels us to play these roles?