Leah DeVun

In collaboration with Lauryn Siegel

“The Summit,” Three-channel video installation, 10:25 (2016)

“The Summit” is based on the life of Ethel Smyth, a pioneering opera composer, suffragist, lesbian, and mountain climber who flouted conventions of gender in the early twentieth century. Until this fall, Smyth’s “Der Wald” was the only opera composed by a woman to have ever been performed at the Metropolitan Opera (in 1903). Smyth also famously threw a stone at the window of an anti-suffragist politician’s home during a protest, an action that landed her in jail, where she conducted her fellow protesters in her feminist anthem “March of the Women” (which provides the central musical theme for the video). “The Summit” draws from both Smyth’s biography and the Greek myth of Sisyphus, which it places in direct parallel to the uphill battle faced by modern-day queer, feminist, and transgender activists. “The Summit” invokes a long history of marginalized lives to suggest how we might reimagine and ultimately embrace the futility of the never-accomplished task.

"The Summit" is currently installed at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

 Director of Photography: Jessica Bennett

Original Music: Leslie Allison, Nick Hallett, Dara Hirsch, and Lori Scacco

Original Text: Kristin Naca

Editors: Anita Chao and Andrea Merkx

Choreographer: Phoebe Osborne

Costume and Makeup: Charlotte M. Sims and Charles Zambrano

Performers: Raven Blue, Macauley DeVun, Octavia Kohner, Massima Lei, and Azure D. Osborne-Lee

Additional Story: Macauley DeVun and Julia Steinmetz