This 7” print surfaced recently, I hadn’t laid eyes on it in a long time: 3 super-eight frames show my thirty-one year old self, holding a handgun, with a dangling price tag. Depicted are stills from Jennifer Montgomery’s 1989 film Home Avenue, in which she retraces the scene of a crime, a rape at gunpoint perpetrated against her when she a college student in Middletown, CT. In the film she returns to the site, the titular Home Avenue, only blocks from her family’s house, and narrates her memory of the event in a straightforward, dispassionate tone. I held the super-eight camera, and later witnessed her hand-processing of the color film in a tiny, bare-bones darkroom. The technique of hand-processing color movie film is crude: you unspool and bundle it into a can, the kind used for still-camera B&W film, and develop it in color chemistry. I was awed by Jennifer’s throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude – she’d invested some time and effort into staging the shots – but the risk paid off, the processed film yielded up images utterly transformed by reversal of color, day-glow psychedelic color, over-printing of images and sprocket holes, all manner of hoped-for and unknowable accidents.

I have barely a memory of the scene in the gun shop, or where it was, but it was all part of Jennifer’s inimitable method of reenactment, of piecing together a narrative from fragments in order to create an essay film, a medium she prized for its ability to “bring together writing, performance and the visual” all in one work.

Elsewhere, in an Afterimage interview, Jennifer complicated and nuanced her method by saying: “the visual is the balm, verbiage is the threat.”

Every time I am on the cusp of something new, I remember her insight and I keep it in my sights, even if I fail again and again to heed it.

Moyra Davey
June 2020

Moyra Davey was born in Toronto in 1958, she currently lives and works in New York. She has had solo exhibitions at Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2008); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2010); Tate Liverpool (2013); Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2014); and Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna (2014), among other venues.