Folio: Bridget Moser on the Uncanny and that Skeleton with Hair

Folio asks artists and curators to gather works made with unexpected materials and adapt them for the printed page. In this issue we speak with Bridget Moser, who splits the difference between performance art and prop comedy, about the uncanny, the unsettling, ‘cursed images’ and a hair covered skeleton of her creation that got under people’s skin.

I think that the uncanny is very rich! If we’re working from the Freudian definition (sorry) that the uncanny creates the sense that something once familiar has become terribly strange, I think it has a lot of overlap with another kind of form that interests me, which is prop comedy. That does basically the same thing by taking something familiar or commonplace and twisting it enough from its agreed upon meaning to create a joke of some kind (and there’s actually a lot in Freud’s writing about the uncanny dealing with disturbing and unnerving inanimate objects).

Maybe they’re both about hinting at something that doesn’t otherwise exist without some kind of intervention, on the one hand something creepy and on the other something funny. I think life requires a good mix of both of these factors.

The skeleton may be my greatest achievement. It was recently part of an exhibition in Nebraska, of all places, and one of the art installers told me their friend who lived across the street had a photo of it from Reddit as their desktop background. I think that crappy photos of it have taken on a whole life of their own which is really nice.

As a genre, “cursed images” have fascinated me for a few years now — hence the whole uncanny attraction. Cursed images are photos of everyday scenarios or things arranged in a way that they shouldn’t be so that they give off a feeling of looming dread or something a bit nightmarish. A lot of them incorporate aspects of the body like fingernails or hair or teeth where they shouldn’t be, and so the idea of meticulously glue gunning fur onto bones for several months seemed like a natural step. So I’m glad to have given back to the field of cursed images. I get a lot of requests to buy it and, absolutely no way, but I encourage everyone to make their own as a fun craft at home.

I’m always the most satisfied when I’m laughing but also a little bit freaked out and so naturally as a narcissist these are both a big part of my work (as is… my self). But I hope that for everyone else there is at least something that is a bit satisfying, too, whether it’s one of these aspects or both or something else altogether.