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Janet Biggs

Created: 2010

Biggs’ latest effort, Duet (2010), is focused on NASCAR, which is deeply imbedded in consumer culture, with its appetite for spectacle and heroism. Rather than exclusively focusing on the drivers, Biggs zeroes in on the speed, accuracy, and agility of the pit crews. Employing her usual technique of point and counterpoint, she alternates segments of the race with a musical duet. Violinist Mazz Swift and vocalist Martha Joseph perform les lianes en fleurs (The Flower Duet) from Leo Delibes’ 1883 opera Lakme, which has become one of the most familiar numbers by any composer, in any genre—one can hear it at the movies, in elevators and shopping malls, and in commercials. The perfect melding of the musical duet parallels the skillful precision of the pit crew members, who work in tandem to aid the driver’s victory. Biggs captures the action of mainstream America’s favorite form of racing with sympathy and acuity. She heralds the crew’s grace under pressure and the quiet sublimity of victory.


Single channel video (6.32 minutes)

Music: Leo Delibes, Viens, Malika, les lianes en fleurs (The Flower Duet) from the opera Lakme. Performers: vocalist Martha Joseph and violinist Mazz Swift.

Museum purchase. 2010.83

This video is supported, in part, with a Special Project Grant from the Arts & Science Council.