The Wife's Lament

Video by Manon Manavit

The sensation of reading Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Mere Wife is visually represented in this brief but dense video from the multidisciplinary artist Manon Manavit. Images flash at breakneck speed: some conjured by incoming words, some stored, as if by osmosis, in the recesses of past experience and history. The found footage in this video serves as an interpretation of a major theme in Headley’s novel—the violence, monstrousness, and warfare found beneath the veneer of tranquility and domesticity of suburban life. Ticks from an educational science video dwell within a feel-good barbershop scene. Leeches interact with American soldiers in live combat. The longform 1950s advertisement “Word to the Wives” is chipped into fragments and effaced by homemade shadows and glitches, a reverse-propaganda of abstraction. The music was composed by Jacob Brunner, who performs in Philadelphia as Strawberry Hands.

Manon Manavit is a Franco-American director and multidisciplinary artist working in experimental theater and film. She is a CalArts MFA 2019 Director. This year she was a guest video artist for The Wooster Group. She has created performance installations with organizations such as ArtsChangeUS, the German Society of Pennsylvania, Little Berlin, Chinua Achebe Center, the Slought Foundation, and Debra Brown of Cirque-du-Soleil’s Apogée Performance Group.

Visit her website, Vimeo page, and Instagram for more information.

The Mere Wife book cover

The Mere Wife

MCD × FSG, 2018

New York Times bestselling author Maria Dahvana Headley presents a modern retelling of the literary classic Beowulf, set in American suburbia as two mothers—a housewife and a battle-hardened veteran—fight to protect those they love in The Mere Wife.

From the perspective of those who live in Herot Hall, the suburb is a paradise. Picket fences divide buildings—high and gabled—and the community is entirely self-sustaining. Each house has its own fireplace, each fireplace is fitted with a...

See full details