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Article

Sarah Urist Green

(b Kabul, June 5, 1973).

Afghan video and performance artist and photographer, active also in the USA. After fleeing Soviet-occupied Kabul with her family in the late 1980s, Abdul lived as a refugee in Germany and India before moving to Southern California. She received a BA in Political Science and Philosophy at California State University, Fullerton, and an MFA at the University of California, Irvine, in 2000. Abdul first returned to a post-Taliban Afghanistan in 2001, where she encountered a place and people transformed by decades of violence and unrest. Since that time, Abdul has made work in Kabul and Los Angeles, staging herself in performances and creating performance-based video works and photography that explore ideas of home and the interconnection between architecture and identity.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Abdul made emotionally intense performance art informed by that of Yugoslavian artist Marina Abramović and Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta. At the time unable to travel to Afghanistan, Abdul created and documented performances in Los Angeles that probed her position as Afghan, female, Muslim, a refugee and a transnational artist. In ...

Article

Frazer Ward

(Hannibal)

(b New York, Jan 24, 1940).

American poet, performance, video, and installation artist, and urban designer. Acconci worked for an MFA degree at the University of Iowa from 1962 to 1964. He initially devoted himself to poetry and writing that emphasized the physicality of the page and then began to produce visual work in real space in 1969. He worked as a performance artist from 1969 until 1974. His performance work addressed the social construction of subjectivity. A central work, Seedbed (1972; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), saw Acconci masturbate for six hours a day, hidden under a sloping gallery floor, involving visitors in the public expression of private fantasy. Between 1974 and 1979 he made a series of installations often using video and especially sound, mainly in gallery spaces, examining relations between subjectivity and public space. For Where We Are Now (Who Are We Anyway) (1976; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), a long table in the gallery and recorded voices suggested a realm of public or communal debate, but the table extended out of the window over the street like a diving board, countering idealism with the realities of city life. In the 1980s Acconci made sculptures and installations, many viewer-activated, invoking basic architectural units and domestic space. ...

Article

Janet Marstine

(le Lorraine)

(b North Harvey, nr Chicago, Feb 20, 1897; d Woodstock, VT, Nov 18, 1983).

American painter, sculptor, printmaker and film maker. He was brought up in the suburbs of Chicago and was exposed to art at an early age by his father, Adam Emory Albright (1862–1957), a portrait painter. He passed on to his son the interest in careful draughtsmanship that he had developed from tuition with Thomas Eakins. Ivan’s initial field of interest was architecture, which he studied at Northwestern University, Evanston (1915–16), and at the University of Illinois, Urbana (1916–17). During World War I he served with an Army medical unit, making surgical drawings with great precision. He subsequently decided to become a painter and attended the Art Institute of Chicago (1920–23), the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Chicago (1923), and the National Academy of Design, New York (1924). Around this time he began to exhibit regularly.

Albright settled in Chicago in ...

Article

Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

American installation artists, active also in Puerto Rico. Jennifer Allora (b Philadelphia, Mar 20, 1974) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Richmond, Virginia (1996), and Guillermo Calzadilla (b Havana, Cuba, Jan 10, 1971) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996). Allora and Calzadilla met in Italy in 1995 during a study abroad program in Florence. They then lived together in San Juan for a year before moving to New York City where they started working collaboratively while each participated in different residency and study programs. In 1998–1999, Allora participated in the year-long Whitney Independent Study Program, while Calzadilla participated in the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center National Studio Program.

Allora & Calzadilla’s first important international exhibition was the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo in 1998 curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, which investigated the idea of cultural cannibalism known in Brazilian literature as ...

Article

Avigail Moss

American architecture, performance art, and video collective active between 1968 and 1978. Ant Farm was founded in San Francisco by architecture and art students, principally Chip Lord (b 1944) who attended the Tulane School of Architecture, and Doug Michels [Douglas Donald Michels] (1943–2003), who graduated from the Yale School of Architecture. They were later joined by others, including Curtis Schreier (b 1944) and Hudson Marquez (b 1947). The group’s name originated from a friend’s suggestion that their practice functioned more like a rock band or a toy Ant Farm—busily and collectively working underground—than a corporate architecture firm. Their work took an ecological approach to collective living. The group operated between San Francisco and Houston until 1978, when a fire destroyed Ant Farm’s San Francisco studio, at which point Ant Farm disbanded.

Michels and Lord first met when Michels lectured at Tulane, and again when both participated in Anna and Lawrence Halprin’s San Francisco workshop for dancers and architects, ‘Experiments in Environments’, joining other students such as Yvonne Rainer and Meredith Monk. Ant Farm’s early architecture and design work was influenced by the American architect and theorist Buckminster Fuller; by the ‘do-it-yourself’ ethos of Stuart Brand’s ...

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b New York, Feb 27, 1935).

American performance artist, photographer and filmmaker. In the mid-1950s she studied acting at the Tamara Daykarhanova School for Stage, New York, and creative writing at the College of the City of New York. Her performances can be seen as autobiographical, with invented roles based partly on historical characters. Set-pieces recurring in performances from the early 1970s included the King of Solana Beach, inspired by a portrait of Charles I, King of England, by Anthony van Dyck; Eleanor Antinova, giving the recollections of a black dancer in Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes; and the Angel of Mercy, Florence Nightingale in the Crimea. Antin considered her performances as a means of self-definition as an artist and woman in the late 20th century. The presentations incorporated pithy commentaries on contemporary social and political issues. The spontaneous nature of her activity can be linked to the early years of American film-making, when participants devised dramatic scenarios in an ad hoc sequence. By interspersing her personal experience and vision with episodes from the past, Antin attempted to redefine traditional boundaries associated with women, power and art. For ...

Article

(b Nagoya, July 6, 1936; d New York, NY, May 18, 2010).

Japanese painter, performance artist, and film maker, active in the USA. He studied medicine and mathematics at Tokyo University (1954–8) and art at the Musashino College of Art in Tokyo, holding his first one-man exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo in 1958 and contributing to the Yomiuri Independent exhibitions from 1958 to 1961. In 1960 he took part in the ‘anti-art’ activities of the Neo-Dadaism Organizers in Tokyo and produced his first Happenings and a series of sculptures entitled Boxes, which consisted of amorphous lumps of cotton wads hardened in cement; many of these were put in coffin-like boxes, though one entitled Foetus was laid on a blanket. In pointing to the sickness of contemporary society, these works caused a great scandal in Tokyo.

In 1961 Arakawa settled in New York, where soon afterwards he addressed himself to the idea of a work being ‘untitled’. In taking as his subject this apparent lack of subject, he emphasized the areas of the picture surface where the subject ‘ought to be’ by means of a few well-placed coloured framing marks, as in ...

Article

Christiane Paul

(b Buffalo, NY, May 25, 1978).

American computer artist, performance artist, video artist, installation artist, composer, sculptor, and printmaker. He graduated in 2000 from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he originally studied classical guitar but later switched to the technology of music. At Oberlin he also met Paul B. Davis with whom he formed the Beige Programming Ensemble in 2000, and released a record of 8-bit music entitled The 8-Bit Construction Set. In 2010 he co-founded, with Howie Chen and Alan Licht, the band Title TK.

Arcangel’s body of work has consistently addressed a series of themes, such as the manner in which we express ourselves through technological tools and platforms (from Photoshop to YouTube) in funny, original, creative, and awkward ways. His projects often explore our fascination with technology by playfully undermining our expectations of it and limiting viewers’ control. Another theme that frequently surfaces is the speed of technological obsolescence and the absurdity of a given technology’s lifecycle, which often moves from the cutting-edge of design to an insult of good taste (see Siegel, pp. 81–2). Arcangel connects these themes to the history of art, drawing parallels between pop-cultural vernacular and approaches in the fine art world and combining high tech and do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches. Among his best-known works are his hacks and modifications of Nintendo game cartridges and obsolete computer systems from the 1970s and 1980s (...

Article

Frazer Ward

(b San Francisco, CA, 1967).

American sculptor, installation artist, filmmaker, and video artist. Barney emerged in the early 1990s to considerable fanfare, based on the reputation of works made while still an undergraduate at Yale University (he graduated with a BA in 1989), and early exhibitions in New York galleries. Exhibitions such as Field Dressing (1989; New Haven, CT, Yale, U., Payne Whitney Athletic Complex), and early works in the series Drawing Restraint (begun in 1987), established characteristics of Barney’s work: striking imagery drawn from an idiosyncratic range of sources (sport-oriented in the earliest works), sculptural objects in signature materials (e.g. petroleum jelly, ‘self-lubricating plastic’), and athletic performances by the artist, in the service of arcane personal mythology (see fig.). These characteristics are most fully expressed in the Cremaster cycle of five films (1994–2003, released out of order, beginning with Cremaster 4 (1992)). Elaborate and expensive productions featuring lush imagery, drawing on both marginal and mainstream histories (performance art and Hollywood cinema), Celtic and Masonic lore, popular cultural references (Harry Houdini, Gary Gilmore), and anatomical metaphors (the Cremaster is the muscle by which the testicles are raised and lowered), the ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Columbus, OH, 1949).

American installation artist and video artist. She graduated from the University of Florida in 1972, having studied finance, architecture and art; in 1986 she received an MA in Communication Arts from New York Institute of Technology. Barry’s work was consistently guided by an interest in the ways in which lived social relations are translated into built form in architecture and public space. Casual Shopper (1980–81; see 1988 exh. cat., p. 14) is typical of her early video pieces in examining these issues through a narrative about a couple in a Californian shopping mall; in it, Barry shows how the realms of private fantasy blend into the fantastical confections of the mall’s architecture. The slide and film installation In the Shadow of the City...Vamp r y... (1982–5) points to her related interests in subject formation, states of mind, and the way in which power is exercised through the gaze: bringing together a series of domestic and urban spaces, the images show a number of figures looking out of a window and a woman watching a man sleep. ...

Article

Deborah Cullen

(b Los Angeles, CA, Aug 12, 1933).

African American filmmaker, sculptor, printmaker and archivist of African American culture. Camille Billops received her BA from California State College and her MFA from the City College of New York. A visual artist, filmmaker and archivist, Billops’s darkly humorous prints and sculpture have been exhibited internationally, including at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design, the New Museum and the Bronx Museum, New York; the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Clark College, Atlanta University; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia; Gallerie Akhenaton, Cairo, Egypt; the American Center, Karachi, Pakistan; and the American Cultural Center, Taipei, Taiwan. Billops received a Percent for Art commission in New York and was a long-time member of Robert Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop (PMW), traveling to establish the first summer printmaking workshop in Asilah, Morocco, with the PMW delegation.

As a filmmaker, Billops earned a National Endowment for the Arts award. Her films have been shown on public television and at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She collaborated with photographer James Van Der Zee (...

Article

Courtney Gerber

(b New York, Oct 29, 1946).

American video and installation artist. Birnbaum received her BA in architecture from Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, PA in 1969 and a BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1973. She first engaged with video at the New School of Social Research in New York and in 1976 she received a certificate in Video/Electronic Editing from the New School’s Video Study Center of Global Village. Considered a second-generation video artist, her production critically responds to and expands upon the theory and practice of first-generation video artists such as Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman and Dan Graham (see Video art). The work of Birnbaum and her contemporaries was especially informed by their predecessors’ experimentation with the Kodak PortaPak (c. 1967) and the types of video art that emerged from the first generation’s exploration of the media in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Of these types, two of the most prevalent were videos rooted in performance art, which focused on the self and the body, and work that assessed the actual media of television by attempting to create less commercial, alternative forms of it such as public access cable television (...

Article

Naomi Beckwith

(b Fulton, MO, Feb 4, 1959).

American sculptor and multimedia artist working in fibre, installation, video, and performance. The youngest of seven sons born into a central Missouri family, Cave demonstrated an early acumen with hand-made objects and throughout his career has created works out of texturally rich materials imbued with cultural meaning. Cave received his BFA (1982) from the Kansas City Art Institute, developing an interest in textiles and, after some graduate-level work at North Texas State University, received his MFA (1989) from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, renowned for their textile, fibre art, and design programmes. While working toward his art degrees, Cave simultaneously studied with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, a company known for introducing African American folk traditions into the modern dance vocabulary. Cave moved to Chicago where he became chair of the Department of Fashion Design at the School of the Art Institute in 1980.

Working across the disciplines of sculpture, textile, dance, and cultural performance, Cave’s oeuvre is based on the human figure; he has produced wearable art as sculptures, arrangements of human and animal figurines as installations, and performance works. Cave’s signature works, the multi-sensory ‘...

Article

(b Busan, March 4, 1951; d New York, Nov 5, 1982).

Korean artist and writer active in the USA. Cha was born and raised in Busan, Korea, moving to Hawaii with her parents in the mid-1960s, and then later to San Francisco. Trained in French from early adolescence, she studied comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, including the works of Stéphane Mallarmé. As part of her theoretical studies, Cha also majored in visual art, first concentrating on ceramics and then moving to performance-based work under the tutelage of James Melchert (b 1930). After graduating in both disciplines in 1973 and 1975 respectively, Cha continued her studies in visual art at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving an MFA in 1978. During this time, she studied abroad in Paris at the Centre d’Etudes Américain du Cinéma in 1976, working with psychoanalytic theorists such as Christian Metz and Raymond Bellour. Works created during this time were based on symbols, the manipulation of language via experimentation with font, scale and the placement of words, as well as cinematic devices such as the fade....

Article

Derrick R. Cartwright

(b Rochester, IN, April 16, 1927; d New York, Dec 21, 2011).

American sculptor, painter, printmaker and film maker. Chamberlain studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1950 to 1952 and from 1955 to 1956 at Black Mountain College, NC, where he was exposed to the modernist aesthetics of the poets Charles Olson (1910–70) and Robert Creeley (1926–2005), with whom he formed a lasting friendship. His early welded-iron sculpture was heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism and by the sculpture of David Smith. In 1957 he moved to New York where he made his first works out of crushed car parts, such as Shortstop (1957; New York, Dia A. Found.), a practice for which he became immediately recognized and recognizable. During the mid-1960s he continued in this mode, expanding its formal vocabulary to include larger free-standing complexes and wall reliefs, always emphasizing fit and spontaneity (e.g. Untitled, 1965). This work earned him instant critical association with the ...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Francis Summers

(b McPherson, KS, Nov 18, 1933; d San Francisco, July 7, 2008).

American sculptor, collagist, draughtsman and film maker. Conner attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, finishing his studies in 1955. Soon after he moved to San Francisco, where he immersed himself in its prevalent Beat culture. His early work was principally a form of Collage or Assemblage, as in Spider House Lady (1959; Oakland, CA, Mus.) in which he gathered together decayed print and other fetid matter, wrapped in string nylon, an effect that gave his work a mummified, funereal pallor. Conner also made films reflecting his practice of recycling images from America’s media culture. Using film stock from movies intended to be projected at home, Conner created a collage of various Hollywood stereotypes in A Movie (1958; see 1999 exh. cat., p. 189), a work that established him as an important underground film-maker. Conner also made strange, disquieting sculpture that paid homage to (Henri-Robert-)Marcel Duchamp, such as The Bride...

Article

Philip Cooper

(b Nyack, NY, Dec 24, 1903; d Flushing, NY, Dec 29, 1972)

American sculptor, film maker and writer. Cornell studied from 1917 to 1921 at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. After leaving the Academy he took a job as a textile salesman for the William Whitman Company in New York, which he retained until 1931. During this time his interest in the arts developed greatly. Through art reviews and exhibitions he became acquainted with late 19th-century and contemporary art; he particularly admired the work of Odilon Redon. He also saw the exhibitions of American art organized by Alfred Stieglitz and became interested in Japanese art, especially that of Andō Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai. Following a ‘healing experience’ in 1925 he became a convert to Christian Science.

In 1931 Cornell lost his job as a salesman. In November 1931 he discovered Julien Levy’s newly opened gallery in New York and showed Levy some of his collages. Employing curious juxtapositions, these were composed from cut-out fragments of engravings as in ...

Article

Gregory Sholette

American artists’ collective founded in 1987, still active. Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) is known for its carefully researched installations, performances, videos and publications that explore the intersections of multiple disciplines including art and science, while simultaneously engaging in a sophisticated political critique of state and corporate power. As a form of ethical cultural practice the collective’s approach is grounded in the belief that the common person or amateur should be the true nexus of knowledge in a plural, democratic society. The artistic approach of CAE takes advantage of the shift away from object making established by the Conceptual artists of the 1960s and 1970s. The group’s aesthetic vocabulary has been influenced by the interventionist approach of such collectives as the Situationists (see Situationism), the Yippies, Guerrilla Art Action Group, Royal Chicano Art Front and Gran Fury. Like these groups, CAE’s aim is to imaginatively disrupt everyday life. In addition the Ensemble has published six books with the Brooklyn-based Autonomedia Press that document the group’s critical investigations; the books have been translated into some eighteen languages....

Article

Maria Elena Buszek

(b Toronto, 1958).

Canadian photographer, video artist, and writer, active in USA. Davey variously studied design, drawing, and painting at Montreal’s Concordia University, finally settling on photography, in which she received a BFA in 1982. She later earned an MFA at the University of California San Diego, and began post-graduate studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1988. Frustrated by the tendencies of such contemporaries as Andreas Gursky and Gregory Crewdson to, as she put it, ‘overproduce, overenlarge, overconsume’, Davey sought rather to draw on ‘the inherently surrealist, contingent, “found” quality of the vernacular photograph’(Davey 2014).

Davey’s photographs and videos consist predominantly of quiet vignettes from everyday life: homes filled with dusty, over-stuffed shelves, crammed with books, albums, bottles, and art supplies, and tables with momentary arrangements of these objects in use; lovingly rendered still-lifes of the near extinct, ad-hoc displays of button vendors, newsstands, and hi-fi equipment; always suggesting but rarely depicting the acquisitive, inquisitive people living and working in these humble, very much lived-in spaces. Her breakthrough ...