Whitney Museum of
845 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
212 570 3676
December 13, 2001 - February 24, 2002
the old-dog, technology-laden realm of contemporary art, new tricks
are often hard to find. Galleries too often become darkened white cubes
for the presentation of video art desperately trying unsuccessfully
to provide the spectacle of cinematic experience usually sans any element
of narrative. In the long run, much new video art looks like a clean,
polished version of the groundbreaking video works of the late 1960s
and early 1970s by the likes of Vito Acconci, William Wegman, and Bruce
Nauman. Paul Pfeifffer, is not one of those copy-cats. The inaugural
recipient of the Whitney Biennial's Bucksbaum Award in 2000, Pfeiffer
takes the history of video art and the history of images to make innovative
video works, a new selection of which will be presented at the Whitney
Museum in December, a rare treat for a young artist.
have long been concerned with the evidence of things unseen, new digital
technology has been the impetus for imagists like Pfeiffer. Meticulously
crafting video from the global archive of historic, moving images, Pfeiffer
has created a body of work that resonates presciently with our present.
His images of sports figures in particular and American pop culture
in general examine the power of mediated imagery in a consumer driven
society by taking iconic images of heroes and events, shedding light
on issues such as race and subjectivity. This exhibition premieres two
new videos, The Long Count and Race Riot.
The Long Count is
a video triptych based on Muhammad Ali's legendary fights against Sonny
Liston in the United States, George Foreman in Zaire, and Joe Frazier
in the Phillipines. Taking his signature style of removing the key figures
from these events, the figures of the boxers and the referee are merely
wisps of pixilated digital information. What we are left with is the
spectacle created by the looped image of the cheering crowd. Visually,
Pfeiffer offers up art worthy of a spectacle.
Franklin Sirmans is the curator of Rumors of War, an exhibition
of works inspired by the art of Jacob Lawrence, which continues at Triple
Candie, a new venue in Harlem. His writings appear in Time Out New York,
the New York Times, and other publications.
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