High Art Stars, 2009
Daniel Mudie Cunningham, High Art Stars, 2009
Created for Runway 13: Dead, guest edited by Daniel Mudie Cunningham

In High Art (Lisa Cholodenko, 1998) career driven Syd (Rhada Mitchell) works as an assistant editor for Frame, a highbrow New York art magazine. Fate brings her together with Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy) a Nan Goldin-esque photographer whose practice long ago lost out to a codependent relationship with Greta (Patricia Clarkson) and their shared heroin addiction. Syd brings Lucy to Frame with a pitch to revive Lucy’s career. It works and Syd is promoted to ‘editor’, allowing her to work closely with Lucy on the cover feature. In the process they fall in love. When they go away for the weekend, Lucy sets the camera on auto timer and takes intimate photographs of them snuggling in bed, the morning light streaming through the room. The photos make the cover, Lucy dies from an overdose and Syd’s career is assured, however momentarily compromised by the blurring of that invisible thread separating life and art.

While editing issue 13 of runway, I kept thinking about this film even though I hadn’t seen it in a decade. Perhaps it had something to do with being assigned ‘editor’ of an art magazine. Should I have an affair with Anastasia Zaravinos, the artist I commissioned for runway’s cover? Well it couldn’t hurt – it might make us both art stars. Surely no one will die because, well for starters no heroin was involved, and by theming this issue around death, I figured the ‘real’ experience of death was safely quarantined within the realm of representation, where the image’s reproducibility distances us even further from the real.

Extracted from the Editorial for Runway 13: Dead