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Watching Watch This!
April 25, 2014


Bill Viola

American Art's Watch This! (from Bill Viola's Fall Into Paradise)

As part of the museum's new after work series of curator talks focusing on the permanent collection, "Tour the Floor—What to See on Three," Michael Mansfield, curator of film and media arts, spoke to an assembled group on the current iteration of Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image.

Ranging from the contemplative to the monumental, the works on view are time-based and are displayed in a gallery specially created for viewing. The installation changes over the course of time. As Mansfield states, "We've organized the series of exhibitions around themes that might help elaborate and expand ideas that artists are working with around technology and the moving image. We want to identify technology as an artist medium, a new mode of expression, that is not all that different from painting and sculpture."

The current installation, the third in the series, focuses on the artist's use of time and space. Bruce Nauman's Walk with Contrapposto from 1968 is the oldest work in Watch This!, and challenges the process of art making through the artist's use of counterpose. The hour performance of Nauman walking in a constricted space in his studio while striking a counterpose is, according to Mansfield, a "commentary on the history of art." John Baldessari's Six Colorful Inside Jobs, uses a changing palette in its depiction of a small room that is repainted a different color, depending on the day of the week. It is a tribute to paint and performance and plays with the idea of both audience and artist. Charlemagne Palestine's Running Outburst is just that: nearly six minutes of the artist running around his SoHo studio, defining his space and capturing the performance on video.

The last piece, housed in its own black box theater according to the artist's specifications, is Bill Viola's larger-than-life Fall Into Paradise. From 2005, it's the most recent work on view (nearly four decades separate it from the Nauman work), and exhibits the most sophisticated view of technology. For all it's cinematic, if not operatic spectacle, the piece is firmly rooted in timeless themes: love, the human spirit, and the ability to endure.

Posted by Howard on April 25, 2014 in American Art Here



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