While one might imagine a rivalry between the artists, Breitz acknowledges an appreciation and dialogue.
"Who did it first?" she asks. "I find it fascinating when different people do something similar at the same time. I find it affirming there's a relevance [when] other people are thinking about the same things."
Mutual thoughts seem to have been entertained by the screenwriters of Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Mommie Dearest (1981), which are among the vintage film sources for Breitz's Mother. The piece essentially constructs new meanings from elements such as Faye Dunaway's over-the-top performance as Joan Crawford and Shirley MacLaine's fictitious Debbie Reynolds portrayal in Postcards from the Edge (1990). In the process, it spotlights the ways in which we embrace and consume maternal archetypes.
"There's a tug of war for meaning going on, and at the end of the rope there are all of those existing meanings and identifications and desires already invested in that material," Breitz says. "And then there's me I'm doing my best to bring a new translation or angle."
She manages the feat, not least because her perspectives on her material and equipment are so spot-on. "I think of those plasma displays as vitrines," she says of the screens in her works. "They're like glass boxes in the natural history sense. Almost immediately, what you put into them is something of the past they're less objects of our present than documents that refer back to something which was." Like the first time we heard that favorite Michael Jackson song.
ON VIEW: CANDICE BREITZ
Through Dec. 20., $9$15 (free for kids and on first Tues.; half-price Thurs. evenings)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third St., SF