From March 3, 2009, through March, 2010, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
presents Installations II: Video from the Guggenheim Collections , a new exhibit featuring the Guggenheim collections works on video that reveals the vitality of this form of artistic expression.
The exhibition includes seven video pieces acquired by the Guggenheim Collection over the last five years, evidencing the museums constant commitment to this dynamic contemporary art field.
Gallery 105 offers the video version of the feature film Zidane, a 21st-Century Portrait (2006) created by the artists Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, an installation consisting of three wall-sized videos by New Yorker Slater Bradley The Doppelganger Trilogy (2001-2004), and the video installations Whose Utopia (2006) by the young Chinese artist Cao Fei, the installation Dough (2006) by Mika Rottenberg and I-Be Area (2007) by American artist Ryan Trecartin. These artists, all prominent international exponents in this contemporary art field, have transformed the museum space by adding elements of sculptural props or furniture designed specifically for their works, offering visitors a thought-provoking environment in which to enjoy the artistic experience.
Gallery 103 A of the museum holds the video triptych Paradise Omeros (2002) by Londonbased artist Isaac Julien. Also, the gallery shows the video installation Link (1995-2000) by Mariko Mori, one of the most prestigious international artists in the field of performance, video and installation art.
Video began to infiltrate the art world in the late 1960s, and since then it has been an essential tool for artists in their explorations of the self and society. It has also given them a way of capturing real space and time with increasingly greater sophistication as technology advances. Today, creators use video in exuberant and complex installations that transport the spectator to universes beyond the museum walls. These works often borrow conventions from the film industry such as narrative structures or movie-theater project and sound equipment, but at the same time they have challenged such conventions for example, by using more than one screen in a single space.
Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parrenos psychological portrait
In Zidane, a 21st-Century Portrait (2006), the artists Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno have created a film portrait of one of the greatest international soccer players of all time, Zinedine Zidane. This 92-minute film lasts for the entire length of the game between Zidanes team, Real Madrid, and Villareal, that took place at Bernabeu Stadium on April 23, 2005. But unlike the usual television broadcast of a soccer match, which treats the ball as the focal point, here Gordon and Parreno used 17 synchronized super-35mm Scope format cameras that were distributed around the stadium to focus on one man Zidane. This is a real-time portrait in constant motion. It plunges the spectator into the world of the soccer player, enabling us to gain insight into the psychology and the physical experience of this athlete in action.
For this special museum version of the piece, the artists have combined the single screen version shown in theaters around the world with a second screen featuring the raw footage shot by one of their 17 cameras. At times the two screens align, offering an uncanny doubling of Zidanes image, deepening the psychological complexity of the portrait and echoing the ways in which the sports heros features are circulated throughout mass culture.
Slater Bradley and the nature of identity
The Doppelganger Trilogy (2001-04), by New York artist Slater Bradley, is an installation consisting of three wall-sized videos that last no longer than three minutes. Each presents an evocative performance that looks as though it comes from lost footage of Ian Curtis, lead singer of the post-punk band Joy Division; Kurt Cobain, singer and guitarist for the grunge band Nirvana; and international superstar Michael Jackson. All of these pop-culture heroes have dramatically fallen from grace: Curtis and Cobain committed suicide, while Jacksons career was marred by public scandal. Bradley chooses to portray each figure in a distinct style, and accordingly gives each of his videos its own title:
In Factory Archives Ian Curtis appears filtered through degraded video stock, an elusive performer whose slow-motion movements reflect the mournful rhythm of Joy Divisions music. Phantom Release is made in the style of amateur camcorder footage, showing Kurt Cobain in concert, complete with blurred close-ups and jerky, hand-held camera movements. In Yesterday Michael Jackson performs his signature moves on an otherwise empty stage, shown in silent black-and-white Super-8 footage that appears to disintegrate as it plays.
Although these performances appear to be authentic, none of the videos are quite what they seem. They are all directed by Bradley and acted out by his look-a-like, or doppelganger , Benjamin Brock, who has collaborated with the artist since 1999. Here the appearance of Bradleys doppelganger, performing as the artist playing the roles of Curtis, Cobain and Jackson, encourages us to contemplate the nature of identity and the space between reality and fiction, life and death.
Cao Fei reflects everyday life in the new China
Cao Fei presents Whose Utopia , a twenty-minute video installation made in 2006. In the film, workers in a light bulb factory break away from their normal everyday lives as employees to perform a gracefully choreographed industrial ballet. Meanwhile, the factorys production line carries on, unmoved and unaware.
Whose Utopia was filmed at the Osram light bulb factory based in southern Chinas burgeoning Pearl River Delta Region. The video focuses on the working lives, and on the individual hopes and dreams, of the factorys employees. All the performers we see are real factory workers who were intimately involved with the videos choreography and orchestration. While the worker performers enact their dreams, the factory assembly line carries on a reflection of how the wishes and expectations of the Chinese population are changing with the countrys inexorable march towards modernity.
Cao Fei is one of a generation of young artists who live and work in Beijing. Her work, which covers film, photography, performance and theatre, is concerned with the daily life of people living in the new, urban, industrialized China.
Ryan Trecartin and his exuberant vision of the world
The video I-Be Area is a creation by the Philadelphia-based artist Ryan Trecartin. film presents a world occupied by extroverted and wildly high-spirited characters, played by Trecartin and various friends and family members. Over the course of a haphazard feature-length narrative, these figures cavort around ramshackle sets, offering outlandish statements that come across variously as nonsensical or deeply profound and philosophical. The energetic world these people inhabit covers all areas of the arts painting, sculpture, installation and performance. The film ranges from the sort of madcap homemade teenage sitcom you might come across on the Internet, with make-do props, costumes and an amateur digital aesthetic, to an approach that is influenced by established filmmakers such as Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith and John Waters.
Ryan Trecartin, who was born in Texas in 1981, is one of an emerging group of artists who grew up with the internet and whose work is informed by internet ideas and aesthetics. Though Trecartin directed and edited the video, designed the costumes and plays several roles on screen, he describes his art as a collective project that his friends and family have helped to shape.
Mika Rottenbergs fascination with the female body
The video installation Dough (2006) by artist Mika Rottenberg, who was born in Buenos Aires but now lives in the United States, shows a number of women working in a confined, claustrophobic interior. They knead, shape, push, drop and lay clumps of glutinous gooey dough on an assembly line that is laid out over several floors. The women look like picture-book caricatures. One, who is enormously fat, sits cramped into a tiny workspace. Another is strangely gaunt, with immensely long, bony fingers that echo the long rope of dough she feeds through the production line. The women all work isolated from each other. At one point, the fat woman sniffs at some flowers her allergic reaction to them causes her to cry and her tears become the catalyst that makes the dough rise. Her suffering is an integral part of the process that ends with the dough being vacuum packed, ready for mass consumption.
Much of Rottenbergs work addresses themes of economics. And the female body, in all its proportions, has always fascinated her. Rottenberg found all of the women who appear on the video on the internet or via an ad in the New York Post where she asked for factory workers who were interested in acting. None of the women actually met each other, as each room was a set that Rottenberg created separately in her studio.
Isaac Julien reflects on immigration
The London-based artist Isaac Julien is the author of the twenty-minute video triptych Paradise Omeros (2002). Set on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and in London, the film is loosely based on poems from the Nobel-prize winning epic Omeros by the Caribbean writer Derek Walcott, who collaborated with the artist on the text for this video.
The videos elliptical plot follows Achilles, who works as a waiter on St. Lucia and moves to gritty innercity London. Alongside this basic narrative Julien addresses questions of race, class, culture, desire and memory, exploring the experience of being Creole. Paradise Omeros examines the psychological impact of colonization, immigration, globalization and the politics of representation. Throughout the video, Julien uses recurring imagery of the sea to draw the viewer into a poetic reflection on ideas of self and stranger, war and peace, love and hate. The shifts from cinematic drama to dreamlike sequences seem to symbolize the search for a new life and the promise of the West.
Mariko Moris utopian space
Japanese artist Mariko Mori is the creator of the installation Link , which consists of four interconnected videos that are shown inside a circular structure, which is meant to be entered by one person at a time. Each video shows an image of Mori lying motionless in the transparent Plexiglas body capsule that was a recurring feature of her work in the 1990s. Moris image is seen against a backdrop of thirteen different landscapes from various sites across the world: Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, London and Paris represent the cities of the present ; the cutting-edge city of Shanghai represents the future, while iconic sites in Peru, Cambodia, Mexico and Egypt represent the past . It is as though Moris inert body is moving across boundaries of time and space.
In Link we find the major themes that have preoccupied her since she first emerged as an artist in the early 1990s. In this work she addresses the idea of cyber-organisms, the use of ancient spiritual systems in contemporary life and the creation of architecture as a space for contemplation.