Julian Rosefeldt, Still from Lonely Planet, 2006. Image courtesy the artist and Max Wigram Gallery, London.

The Evolving
Moving Image
and Some of Its
Newest Directors

The second part of the Hirshhorn’s two-part exploration of contemporary moving-image art, Realisms, looks at a decade of work that demonstrates how cinema — now encompassing such related moving-image media as television, home video and digital entertainment — is a pervasive artistic and social language that complicates rather than clarifies the relationship between fiction and reality. The works of 19 international artists examine some of the traditions and qualities of moving- image media, as well as cinema’s ability to invent new forms, functions and correspondences with the world at large.

“Realisms” is divided into two sections: the first focuses on works that quote global cinema, mainstream television and Hollywood production, while the second examines media representations of historical people, places and events, political propaganda and criminal trials. The exhibition is on view June 19 through Sept. 7 and is organized by Hirshhorn curators Anne Ellegood and Kristen Hileman.

In the first section, works by Candice Breitz, Julian Rosefeldt and Pierre Huyghe refer to, sample from and re-create other cinematic works. In The Third Memory (1999), Huyghe gives John Wojtowicz, the bank robber portrayed by Al Pacino in Sidney Lumet’s 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon, a chance to recount his version of the events that inspired the film. Huyghe’s work reveals that, as time goes on, Wojtowicz’s memory of the actual robbery has become intertwined with the story as portrayed in Lumet’s film. Rosefeldt’s Lonely Planet (2006) tracks the journey of a Westerner in modern-day India, culminating with his participation in a musical number on the set of a Bollywood film.

Runa Islam’s Tuin (1998) serves as a transition between the first and second sections of the exhibition. She recreates a complex shot from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1974 film Martha in which an unseen camera circles around a man and woman as they first encounter one another, conveying the dizziness of their fateful meeting. In Islam’s version, cameras and equipment are visible. Tuin exposes the techniques used to fabricate cinema’s spell-binding versions of physical and emotional reality.

In the second section of the exhibition, Michèle Magema, Jeremy Deller, Artur Zmijewski and others explore the confrontation between control and freedom in a cinematic age. These artists recreate historical happenings but enable non-actors to interfere with and or take control of cinema’s processes of storytelling and simulation, resulting in works that critique mass media’s filtering of events.

Artists Isaac Julien and Omer Fast look to montage and multiple screens to deconstruct media’s presentation of people, cultures and historic events. Their films do not use traditional narrative structures. Taking as his subject Colonial Williamsburg and its inhabitants, Fast deconstructs the interview format common within the documentary genre and makes apparent the way moving pictures are spaces where we construct and complicate identity and reality. Essential to the delivery of Julien’s montage is the presentation of characters and landscapes in 3-D space across four screens. This phenomenon of proliferating screens is, of course, occurring outside of gallery spaces as well, as moving-image content is presented on movie screens and televisions, as well as on computers, cell phones and other portable devices, expanding the impact of the cinema throughout daily life.

Cinema Effect >

Kerry Tribe, Still from Double, 2001. Image courtesy the artist and 1301PE, Los Angeles detail.



Janice Guy (American, born Germany), Untitled, 1979.

On the Practice of Photography Beginning in the 1960s
By 1960, photography had permeated every corner of American culture, and artists began to use the camera to break down boundaries between art and life and hierarchies between mediums. Andy Warhol and Vito Acconci each chose the popular automated photo-booth to reveal ideas of the self.

Photography on Photography >>

Yinka Shonibare, MBE, How to Blow up Two Heads at Once (Ladies), 2006.

Contemporary Art in the River of African Diaspora
This exhibition brings the work of seven internationally renowned artists and eight new media works together for the first time, providing insight into the recent explosion of contemporary African art on the international scene.

African Diaspora >>

Ragnar Kjartansson, The Great Unrest, 2007, New video installation.

All Things Possible on a Cold Impossible Island
To travel north has always been a challenge, and the North, and Iceland in particular, has through the ages been terra incognita in the eyes of the outside world, a place of nowhere where “everything is possible." Iceland evokes a mixture of wonder and fear, a feeling of sublime, in the imaginary of most Europeans.

Icelandic Dreams >>

Art Sinsabaugh (American, 1924-1983), Chicago Landscape #155 from Chicago Landscape Group, detail.

Art Sinsabaugh's Love Letters to Open Spaces
American Horizons: The Photographs of Art Sinsabaugh includes a rare group of 85 photographs by Art Sinsabaugh, highly respected by scholars and collectors, but largely unknown to the general public. The exhibition features images created with a large “banquet” camera that made 12 x 20" detailed negatives.

Art Sinsabaugh >>

Markus Schinwald,
the Disconnect between Body
and Space

The psychological debate between space and body, the uncanny and the disquieting, the deficits and the irrational depths of the individual and collective being — all are at play in the works of Markus Schinwald (b. 1973, Salzburg). The most varied media are fused with lightness in his work — from nightmarish films and puppet-like sculptures to re-worked history painting, and prosthetic design and clothes creations, subtly choreographed with one another. In his largest solo museum exhibition to date, Schinwald has created an architectonic production, which in its display is oriented to the spatial designs of Austro-American stage designer and artist, Friedrich Kiesler (1890-1965).

The human body, inadequate and uncanny, serves Schinwald as a starting and observation point. He does not exhibit a firm, stable body whose function as controlled exterior is out of control, but a diaphanous, osmotic body stage, a surface for psychologically charged inner worlds, that constantly seek a path to the outside and manifesting there. In the film 1st Part Conditional (2004), a classic Biedermeier apartment is a set for psychologically charged layers. A female figure in a grey uniform moves with spastic motions through the room while an “off” voice recites fragments of scientific and literary texts. An observer of unknown power forces the puppet-like woman to collapse. The disquieting breakdown appears to be alien and self-controlled in equal measure. The effect is similar when Schinwald makes subtle interventions in the subjects featured in old engravings and paintings, equipping them with (un)canny attributes, such as ambiguous gadgetry and prosthetic accessories. Through a temporal break(through) the apparently consolidated historical body is given a different bodily surface.

In Foucauldian terms the body is point zero where all paths and spaces cross. In Schinwald’s works the body reacts symptomatically to inner conditions, and mirrors outer experience in its pose. Schinwald's scenarios do not follow linear narration, but circulate obsessively and repetitively mid-content. With cool minimal staging, at first glance the films, images and sculptures condense themselves into a complex structure of effect, permitting a multiplicity of possibilities and stories, fed from our collective unconscious. They hijack the observer in a self-supporting cosmos, in an uncanny surreal system, where normative limits are abrogated in favour of the enigmatic and the marvellous.

Thus the presentation of the works in the exhibition is not constricted to a simple arrangement. In its isolation the white cube departs from the environment of its alienated location, but through an auratic, psychological element it is supplemented and weaves the space into the narration. For the exhibition, Schinwald has constructed a modular wood construction in the manner of the architect, stage designer and artist Frederick Kiesler, which draws one through the space like a guide. The exhibition display is determined by a Trager and Leger system, which integrates the observer into the spatial and temporal framework. Kiesler developed the T+L System in 1924 for the Internationale Ausstellung neuer Theatertechnik (International Exhibition of New Theatre Technology) in Vienna, and it makes for a flexible, free-standing construction for the presentation of objects and images, which at the same time reconsiders the attempt to reform antiquated exhibition presentations. This modernist wood construction enables the artist to play a refined game of the visible and concealed. The observer is once more made conscious of his/her role as an “active viewer."

Markus Schinwald >

Markus Schinwald, Gus, 2006, Sculpture, Courtesy Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna detail.