I Know It When I See It (Define Irony) (2015) is a 34 minute single-channel video piece by Eileen Maxson.

Maxson re-casts an iconic scene in the 1994 film “Reality Bites” with forty-five unsuspecting young women. On screen, each is challenged to “define irony” in the same span of time given to the film’s protagonist, played by Winona Ryder, on a failed job interview. The women’s responses range from baffled silence to insightful improvisations to dead-on definitions memorized, in an uncanny case of life imitating fiction that sought to imitate life, by fans of the original film. By re-purposing the scene into a real ordeal, Maxson fixes on the uneasy search for self definition and meaning within consumer culture.

This video is part of a constellation of works that take a VHS copy of “Reality Bites” as central inspiration. The series was presented in a solo exhibition, “I was really gonna be something by the age of twenty-three”, at Microscope Gallery, 2015.

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