Clara Williams: The Price (Giving in Gets You Nowhere)

About the Exhibition

The Price (Giving in Gets You Nowhere) by Clara Williams (b.1972, Nashville, Tennessee) is a mechanized marionette production that takes place in the third-story windows of 80 Hanson Place. Williams’s installation comes to life once an hour, like a cuckoo clock to enact an 8-minute sequence loosely drawn from The Price, a 1968 play by Arthur Miller set in the attic of a New York brownstone.

The Price centers on the troubled reunion of two estranged brothers, Victor and Walter, who meet in the attic of their deceased father’s brownstone building one week before its slated demolition. During their years apart, the two brothers have followed different paths: Walter left home to become a successful doctor and Victor stayed at home to care for their father, and later took a blue-collar job as a police sergeant. As the play begins, Victor and his wife, Esther, arrive to haggle with an antiques dealer over the price for an attic’s worth of furniture and long-unused family treasures. When Walter arrives—late and unannounced—the already-tense financial transaction builds into an airing of decades of unresolved family conflict.

Williams’s installation conveys this basic narrative with three life size wooden marionettes, each gliding out of a window, using nominal gestures and small props in a manner that is at once minimal and melodramatic.



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