Myth Labs

2008 / 7:30 min

16mm (transferred to video).

Music by Laura Ortman, Mike Evans, Ryan Sawyer and Matt Marinelli
Mixed at EXILE studios by Matt Marinelli
Assistant/Producer: Isabelle Kohler


‘Myth Labs’ interweaves Puritan visions, folk art, religious allegories and victims of the current Methamphetamine epidemic. This is a film about fear, paranoia, faith and loss of faith and salvation.
‘Myth labs’ takes place in the American frontier and wilderness. Similarly to Meth addicts in rural America, for the Puritans the wilderness represented a place of their damnation and their ultimate resurrection synonymously. Through blending these two times in American history, I attempt to illuminate the idea that the lure of this drug for contemporary rural inhabitants is rooted in our earliest consciousness-forming experiences as settlers in a state of spiritual and physical emergency. Overly fervent faith and addiction alike, can change one from mere mortal to Superman to scarecrow. Just as a ‘wolf in sheeps clothing’ these two vices (or devices) of salvation can have devastating consequences.


Martha Colburn: what would Jesus do (with a bag of drugs)?

Martin Luther dancing while smoking crack, young women injecting drugs into painfully raw veins, and historical religious fanatics sporting baseball hats reading “I Love Jesus” while carrying wads of cash are just a few of the contentious figures featured in Martha Colburn’s new seven-minute film, Myth Labs, 2008, on sale at Galerie Diana Stigter (A19). The New York- based, self-taught artist is known for using hand-painted cut-out figures and old-school animation techniques to create provocative films that address topical religious, political and socio- economic issues.

In Myth Labs, which took Colburn nine months to complete, she uses the drug crystal meth as a metaphor for the many ills that plague US society, including narcotic abuse, poverty and various forms of oppression as well as religious extremism.
The artist has juxtaposed Biblical, historical and contemp- orary images to illustrate these “vices”. One scene depicts the Pilgrim Fathers attempting to convert the indigenous population to Christianity. As well as the artist’s film, there are four installations incorporating the cut- out figures that appear in the film.

Emily Sharpe
Art Newspaper, Art Basel daily edition, 5 June 2008

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