Samantha Nye: My Heart’s in a Whirl
Across artistic mediums, Samantha Nye interrogates the power, beauty, and occasional humor she sees in consensual sexual encounters between older people—a population often deemed beyond desire. In “Samantha Nye: My Heart’s in a Whirl,” the artist turns her focus to video, recreating Scopitone classics from the 1950s and ’60s. A visual component of Scopitone jukeboxes, these 16 mm film reels were an early form of music video and a precursor to MTV, YouTube, and TikTok. Many featured a white male pop star or band surrounded by scantily clad women, or female singers wiggling suggestively. These videos were groundbreaking technology and a novel form of entertainment, but they also perpetuated stereotypes.
Nye rejects the original Scopitone videos and their reductive representations of gender, class, and race, reframing them shot for shot with queer elders—people she meets during her research—and even her own mother and grandmother. The reimagined films discard ageist and ableist definitions of sexuality and erotic pleasure, as well as homogenous and oppressive understandings of desire and domesticity. Instead, Nye offers intergenerational fantasies with an expanded vision of love, sex, agency, and belonging.
This exhibition is part of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University’s 2021 Traveling Fellow exhibition program, presented in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Presented with support from the Callaghan Family Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.