William Wegman

film 37 of 46

Coin Toss

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 15, 2015

Typical, emblematic Wegman. It’s a joke. It’s a play on words, and a friendly reveal of the absurd way we use those words. There’s some semiotic inquiry, which is to say that he interrogates the way we make meaning, and the assumptions that underlie the process. That’s also a cultural critique, and maybe a bit of ethical inquiry. Why heads and tails, indeed? Intertext: surely there’s some Tom Stoppard/Rosencrantz & Guildenstern here. But he’s not just quoting: by isolating a coin toss from the bet or the contest in which it usually operates and signifies, we’re left to think about the mysterious patterns in which coins fall this way or that, which is to say the relationship between intelligence, design, chance operations and utter chaos. There are echoes, or implications: colonization, or Colonialism. Dire domestic hierarchies!

Further, finally, as is the case with most of this artist’s extensive output, Coin Toss implicitly makes the argument that animals, who so often and so sweetly do what is required of them, are heirs to salvation.