Curated by Eve Sussman and Kathleen Gilrain
Design Consultant: Chris Doyle
Ayreen Anastas, Phyllis Baldino, Sadie Benning, Mathieu Borysevicz, Harrell Fletcher Neil Goldberg, Johan Grimonprez, Katarzyna Kozyra, Megan Michalak, Shannon Plumb, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Chris Sollars, Julian Stark
January 24 to March 7, 2004
LIFE DURING WARTIME STOP COUP'DE ÉTAT IN THE MULTIPLEX STOP ARTISTS TAKEN OVER HOUSE STOP PROJECTION BOOTHS SQUATTED STOP FILM SCHOOL DOGMA, TAKE COUNTER TAKE, CU, LS, OUT THE WINDOW STOP THERE IS A CLATTER AND HUSH, THE PROJECTORS HUM WITH A NEW MOTION PICTURE PARADIGM …
With this premise Eve Sussman (film/video artist - 2004 Whitney Biennial pick) and Kathleen Gilrain (sculptor and Executive Director - Smack Mellon) have organized and builtMULTIPLEX, their riff on the mainstream movie paradigm and the department store architecture of the contemporary cinema space.
Using the theme of the multi-layered movie house the gallery has been transformed. Built into Smack Mellon's cavernous 40' clerestory space is a 3-story high multi-tired structure of platforms joined by ramps that allow both the artists and the audience to take advantage of the entire volume of the gallery.
Within this architecture the curators have created a comprehensive mix of video work from historic to satiric to fantastic. Gilrain and Sussman have chosen works that re-envision the cliché's of cinema referencing film genres i.e.: war movie, documentary, love story, myth, comedy, sci-fi, sports film, teaching films, through the means of low budget video art.
Mundanity as "poetic verité" is especially prevalent in a number of works that engage daily life to communicate classic themes. Among the most telling juxtapositions is the relationship between artists who work with seemingly peaceful imagery of daily life and those whose work is everyday 'life during wartime'. What is interesting is how the 'twain shall meet'. Whether it's the poetry inherent in the streets of New York in the work of Neil Goldberg or the participants in the Senior Center in Harrell Fletcher's Problem of Possible Redemption or the essential moment in Mathieu Borysevicz' KFOR of a boy playing with an empty piggy bank among the ruins of Kosovo, or Ayreen Anastas' M* of Bethlehem shot in Palestine during curfew while she reads definitions from the O.E.D., all of these works elevate dailiness. These pieces address the mundane aspects of both war and peace; the filmic poetry of daily struggle communicated with a deadpan documentary style.
Katarzyna Kozyra and Johan Grimonprez have imagery from both real and fictitious violent crimes. Kozyra hangs out with pyromaniacs who blow things up for fun, in the back woods of Poland in Punishment and Crime, while Grimonprez gorgeously tells the history of hijacking, before September 11, in D I A L H I S T O R Y, (an internationally renowned work, rarely shown in the U.S.). Another not-fit-for-The History Channel is Karina AguileraSkvirsky's Margaret. Focusing on Margaret Okayo's (Kenya) 2001 NYC marathon victory run, the work is created from excerpted and manipulated live TV news coverage that is juxtaposed with a the 'female voice-over comprised of appropriated 17th century travelogues of Europeans' "discovery" of New York.
In the category of "boys-who-play-dress-up" Julian Stark, Chris Sollars and Shannon Plumb (okay, she's a girl) excel. Stark as a spandex wearing Hercules, Sollars as Björn Börg in a skirt and Plumb in a myriad of thrift store get-ups are the solo stars in their own works, as is Megan Michalak whose efforts to defy gravity are a throw back to junior high science flicks. Both Plumb and Michalak share a comedic silent film approach – Michalak harping back to slapstick and Plumb to Chaplin and Keaton. Sadie Benning's Flat is Beautiful, is known for its costume of choice, the homemade cardboard mask. Her piece is the sole love story in the exhibition.
Phyllis Baldino's Baldino Neutrino will have its world premierein MULTIPLEX and is the homage to science fiction in the show. In 2003 Baldino gained access to the highly classified Super Proton Synchrotron tunnel at CERN, 20 stories underground in Geneva, in order to try to become a neutrino herself and take the 2.5 milliseconds journey 454 miles to Gran Sasso, Italy. To undergo this transformation Baldino speeds through the proton tunnel until she is spit out as a neutrino on her way to Italy. We watch the entire journey.