Alex McQuilkin

B. 1980, US
Unbreak My Heart, 2012
Video, 7′ 05″

In Unbreak My Heart, the stereotype of the hysteric woman is interlaced with allusions to the witch. Quotes from Malleus Maleficarum are read aloud by a little girl, who couldn’t possibly be aware of the implications of what she reads. Like Salomé being forced to seduce Herod with a dance, this lifeless girl gets up entranced and begins to perform her role as seductress. The video tackles antiquated ideas of hysteria and witchcraft and brings them into a contemporary context, reinventing their narrative in order to illuminate the grasp they continue to hold over women today. With a dance performed to Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart,” McQuilkin frame’s the work within contemporary pop culture. The soundtrack, used to heighten emotional effect and presumably sung to a lover, functions as a futile plea for changing the past, or a contractual incantation, a spell cast.

Courtesy of the artist