American Reflexxx is a powerful short film directed by Los Angeles–based artist Alli Coates that stars performance artist Signe Pierce as a mirror of society. Well, at least a certain part of society. In the video, Pierce saunters through a touristy boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, never speaking, only posing suggestively and pressing forward. Immediately, the members of the growing crowd proposition her sexually ("Will you do me in that later?") and hurl accusations about her gender ("It's a SHIM!"). They are enraged by her silence. "God will laugh at your calamity," a preacher wails.
This film is proof that sometimes reality is the strangest fantasy of all. Without revealing how it ends, I can say that it escalates to a shocking climax where the artist is actually attacked by a member of the crowd. It's amazing to see what fully grown adults will do on vacation. The first time I saw this film was two years ago at Art Basel in Miami Beach, and wrote of it then, "the video was terrifying, surreal—and true." This week, the video was released on americanreflexxx.com and already has provoked hundreds of comments, most of them expressions of despair about the picture of society presented by Pierce and Coates. "I see humans but no humanity," says one commenter.