David Hammons: Phat Free (video still), 1995/1999
Single-channel video; 5 minutes, 4 seconds; color; sound
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Courtesy of the artist and Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York
© David Hammons
via "Met matters" biweekly newsletter:
Closed Circuit Blurs Lines between Media
In 2002, the famously elusive artist David Hammons told art critic Peter Schjeldahl, "The only place I really would like to show at in New York is the Metropolitan. It's full of spirit."
Hammons gets his wish with the current exhibition Closed Circuit: Video and New Media at the Metropolitan, the Met's first multi-artist exhibition of video art and new media. Among featured works is Hammons's five-minute video Phat Free (1995/1999), a mediation on race, public space, and the role of the artist.
On view through April 29 in the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, Closed Circuit includes includes video and new media works made between 1994 and 2004 by eight international and American artists. Because of the variety of technologies involved, the Department of Photographs collaborated with several other departments in organizing and mounting the exhibition.
"while we always rely on departments such as Design and Editorial," said Doug Eklund, Assistant Curator, "with this exhibition we've also depended on the expertise of a wider array of departments, including Media Services, the Machine and Electric Shops, and the Electricians."
A theme throughout Closed Circuit is the blurring of lines between still and moving images, video and film, traditional art forms and cutting-edge technologies. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the collection of the Department of photographs, which began selectively collecting video and new media works in 2001. It takes its title from Lutz Bacher's 1997-2000 video of the same name, which uses thousands of individual frames to form a 40-minute composite portrait of the late art dealer Pat Hearn.
"We realized that the boundaries between media were breaking down," Doug said. "Certain kinds of video art could fit just as well into our collection [as still photographs]. We realized that if we're going to collect up to the present day, it didn't make sense to rule out this medium that is intimately connected to still photography."
The works in Closed Circuit range in length from 19 seconds--which studies show is the average amount of time that modern museum-goers, conditioned by television, spend in front of a single work--to 24 hours, and represent a range of media, including film, video, light-emitting diodes (LED) display, and digital photography. Because video art comes with detailed instructions from the artist about how it should be shown (for instance, whether through a projector or a monitor), putting together a show like Closed Circuit poses different challenges from an exhibition of photographs, sculptures, or paintings. [...]
For more information about the exhibition, visit the Met's website.