Possibly in Michigan
Occupying a permanent position in the MoMA, Cecelia Condit’s whimsical horror/musical reconciles images of trauma, survival, and vindication on terms absolutely, hyperbolically feminine. Musicality waxes and wanes in bewitching synths throughout the short, as composed by one of the two starring girls Karen Skladany. Skladany’s duality as both cast and crew is at home in the film’s sincerest manifestation: an acerbic, creative maelstrom of a home-movie one could only dream of making. Amateur filmmaking, whether that be through Tik Tok or otherwise, is a cultural praxis, a mode of self-expression beyond the stagnancy of filtered images. Thus, in part due to its circulation in smaller circles of cinephiles, Possibly in Michigan has found a modern resurgence in the age of gen Z.
There is such explosive interactivity at the heart of Possibly in Michigan, but its visual story constitutes only half the picture. As told through its linguistic narrative, the playful expositional lyrics not to be fully trusted, and uprooted from a mosaic of visual effects kaleidoscopic and camp, the film simply follows two girls meandering around a mall as they shop for perfume, stalked by the pantomimic ‘Arthur’, mouth agape, who follows them home, hanging in each frame with extreme omnipresence.
As recognisable as this sordid experience may be for young women, the film takes turns utterly estranging to actualise its point of view. If one feels in almost physical proximity to the overspilling colours and tactile camerawork, it is because Condit’s film involves us beyond our realisation.
Under the guise of abstract and experimental splendour, therein lies a sombre and empathetic view towards women’s inevitable encounters with, and survivals from, monstrosity. In direct opposition to monstrous men, Possibly in Michigan codes survival as feminine. It sees survival as the architecture upholding female friendships; friendships which nourish and humour us, understand and ultimately protect us.