Culture in its myriad forms is available to artists as a repository or an archive to be plundered, contested, evoked and edited. Much contemporary art appropriates, re-imagines or otherwise re-visits established cultural texts, including popular culture and the history of art, film, and performance. The aim is to generate new meanings and fresh relevance from this source material, often by reiterating its value in the form of homage or deflating its claims in the form of critique, but always by rerouting it to mysterious and unexpected places.
Popular re-enactments usually take the form of live reconstructions of military events performed by enthusiasts. In the art world, we have seen a number of performance-centred reconstructions of important live art events from the 60’s and 70’s, perhaps most compellingly staged by Marina Abramovic with Seven Easy Pieces (2005) in the Guggenheim’s rotunda. On a more overtly political front, Jeremy Deller’s The Battle Of Orgreave (2001) re-staged a notorious episode in UK labour history, which pitted picketing miners with Thatcherite police in a complex historical re-enactment filmed by director Mike Figgis.
To re-enact is to repeat, re-author, and recycle all at once. It is a belief in the fallacy of absolute originality, with the attendant complications of authorship and intellectual property, and a concession to the “anxiety of influence”. To critically re-enact, as all the artists in this exhibition do, is to breathe new life into a cultural text in an attempt to offer a renewed aesthetic and political experience. These gestures are related and traceable to the traditions of collage, photomontage, the found object, and the ready-made, including found-footage and sampled visual narratives or “time ready-mades”.
Re-enactments consists of a series of “re-animations” prompted by diverse films or television spectacles. They are manifestations of a sifting and working through of their inspirational cultural artefacts. They acknowledge the inheritance and indebtedness to them, while pointing to media as a source for collective memory. This exhibition also makes visible the difficulty in untangling one’s personal thoughts from the large and complex weave of interrelated culture texts, discourses and memories.
Six artists present works that in some way critically re-stage films, media spectacles, popular culture and, in one case, private moments of daily life. Some of the works offer bold objectifications of our image-saturated world, while others trigger poetic confusion between memory, fact, and fiction. By vividly and imaginatively addressing politics, spectacle, and subjectivity, these re-workings of cultural products or events of the past pose compelling questions about the present.
Jean-Luc Godard is the inspiration for two works in the exhibition: Kerry Tribe uses Godard’s television masterpiece France/Tour/Détour/Deux/Enfants, made with Anne-Marie Miéville, as the starting point for her dual-screen installation Here and Elsewhere, whereas the acclaimed tracking shot in his film Week-End is the basis for Nancy Davenport’s Weekend Campus.
Davenport also references two early moments of film history by the Lumière brothers and Georges Méliès in Workers (Leaving The Factory) – a speculative, multi-screen take on labour and globalisation. Stan Douglas’ two projector, single-screen film installation Inconsolable Memories uses the Cuban film classic Memories Of Underdevelopment as its foundational text. These works are clearly not remakes in the Hollywood tradition, but critical studies which selectively deploy attributes or structural characteristics of the originals for wildly divergent ends.
Notorious televised sports and entertainment spectacles inform the three projects on view by Harun Farocki and Paul Pfeiffer. Farocki’s Deep Play subjects the 2006 World Cup Final to a stunning formal, scientific, and statistical vivisection over twelve synchronised, real-time video projections. Michael Jackson is the subject of two Paul Pfeiffer works: Live Evil (Bucharest), a quasi-mirrored image of Michael Jackson in performance, and Live From Neverland, an installation concerning the pop star’s child molestation trial.
While not directly inspired by a film or television text, Ann Lislegaard’s I-You-Later-There nonetheless strongly evokes the cinematic experience. The re-enactment in this work is of an inner life projected abstractly onto a rectangular surface made of floorboards, which becomes a stage or screen.
Like much media art, all the works on display are loops locked in a prison of endless replay. This aspect of repetition, and the ability to enter the work at any time, does not privilege a linear cathartic narrative. We are confronted instead with fragile, open-ended works, which structurally posit the inescapable cycle of deferral and inconclusiveness as a theoretical model through which to view both the many issues addressed in the works and the many experiences of the world.
– John Zeppetelli, Curator
Nancy Davenport’s work is represented by Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery in New York, and has been exhibited internationally, including the 10th Istanbul Biennial, the Gardener Art Centre (UK), the 25th Bienal de Sao Paulo, the MIT List Visual Arts Center (Mass.), the First Triennial of Photography & Video at the International Center of Photography (NY), and the deSingel International Kunstcentrum (Antwerp). Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Artforum, Art in America, October, Frieze, and in the books Vitamin Ph: New Perspectives in Photography (Phaidon Press), and Photography Reborn: Image Making in the Digital Era (Abrams Inc). Born in Vancouver and based in New York, Nancy Davenport is the recipient (with Tom McDonough) of an Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writing Grant and DHC/ART’s first production grant for Workers (Leaving The Factory) (2007).
Stan Douglas was born in 1960 in Vancouver, where he currently lives and works. Educated at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, Douglas has exhibited widely since his first solo show in 1981. Among numerous group exhibitions, Douglas was included in the 1995 Carnegie International, the 1995 Whitney Biennial, the 1997 Skulptur Projekte in Münster, and Documenta X in Kassel. Recent solo exhibitions include Past Imperfect: Works 1996-2007, Württembergischer Kunstverein and Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany; Suspiria, 100 Tonson Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand; and Stan Douglas, Wiener Secession, Vienna, Austria. He is represented by David Zwirner, New York.
The oeuvre of German filmmaker Harun Farocki now comprises more than 100 feature films, essay films, documentaries, and installations. He is one of the most important directors of contemporary documentaries and essay films working in Germany today. Since 1995 he has had numerous exhibitions and installations in galleries and museums. His films and installations are generally socio-political in nature and reveal a keen interest in the role of technology in modern society. His films have dealt with such subjects as Vietnam, capitalism, labour systems, surveillance technology and military reconnaissance. Harun Farocki is currently a visiting professor at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna.
Ann Lislegaard works with video, photography and sculptural installations that manipulate the reception of space and time in order to reflect how we orientate in and perceive the physical as well as the psychological environments we inhabit. A graduate of The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen 1988-1993, Ann Lislegaard attended The International Studio Program – IASPIS, Stockholm in 2003, and was an MIT Rubin Artist-in-Residence in 2005-2006. Her work has been shown internationally, including the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005. Recent solo exhibitions include Art–Unlimited, Paul Andriesse Gallerie, Basel. Switzerland; Science Fiction and Other Worlds, Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo, Norway in 2007; and Ann Lislegaard, NCA-Nichido Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan in 2006. Represented by Murray Guy Gallery, New York and Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam, Ann Lislegaard lives and works in Copenhagen and New York.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii and based in New York, Paul Pfeiffer has exhibited widely around the world. He was the first recipient of the Whitney Museum’s Bucksbaum award in 2000, and has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney in New York, the UCLA Hammer in Los Angeles, the Barbican Art Centre in London, the Kunsthaus Glarus in Switzerland, the List Visual Arts Center at MIT in Cambridge, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, the Melina Mercouri Center in Athens, Greece, K 21 Kunstsammlung in Dusseldorf, and Middlebury College’s Museum of Art in Vermont. His project for ArtAngel, THE SAINTS, is currently on view in London, and he is slated to take part in the upcoming Biennale of Sydney in Australia next year.
Kerry Tribe is an artist based in Los Angeles and Berlin. She has had solo exhibitions at Art 28 Statements, Basel; Artspeak, Vancouver; Galerie Maisonneuve, Paris; and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. Her work has also been shown at Kunst-Werke, Berlin; The Generali Foundation, Vienna; ARTSPACE, Auckland; 36th Edition International Film Festival, Rotterdam; Kunsternes Hus, Oslo; SMAK, Ghent; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City. Tribe was the 2005-2006 Guna S. Mundheim Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, and in 2005 received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award. She received her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2002, and was a Whitney Independent Study Program Fellow from 1997-1998.
Here & Elsewhere, 2002