Rosson Crow's paintings have long felt a little empty — virtuosic evocations of place, waiting for the action to begin. Now, with her first film at Honor Fraser, they finally make sense. Paintings of lushly decorated spaces executed with Crow's trademark florid brights and abstract flourishes fill the galleries, but they also form the backdrops and props in "Madame Psychosis Holds a Séance," a 12-minute filmed portrait of a woman obsessed with the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
With an excellent performance by Kelly Lynch, the film is a layered meditation on desire and collective delusion. It also is visually clever, using flat, painted backgrounds, props and costumes to create a dream-like atmosphere.
Lynch plays a brittle Marilyn Monroe type, mooning over images of JFK and holding a séance in her sitting room, a space defined wholly by Crow's paintings. She communicates with the dead president via a glowing crystal, but ends up chanting a self-hating diatribe. The scenes become increasingly surreal and desperate, as Madame Séance splits into one or more doppelgangers, taking on the stories of various characters associated with Kennedy, the mystery of his death and the hopes that died with him. She even pushes herself into her own grave.
The flatness of the sets and even the costumes (the details of Lynch's clothes are painted on) not only add to the surreal atmosphere, but serve as an analog for delusion. Ours, Crow suggests, is a landscape propped up by frustrated desire.