• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Flickr
  • Youtube
  • eNews

Liquid Medium List of Works

Irit Batsry, 'Traces of a presence to come', 1991

Irit Batsry
Traces of a presence to come (video still) 1991
Purchased 1999 with funds from James C. Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

The Liquid Medium: Video Art

Exhibited at the Queensland Art Gallery 29 May - 11 July 1999
Curated by Brian Langer, in association with Anne Kirker and David Burnett.

List of Works

Israel/France/United States b.1960
Traces of a presence to come 1991
39:00 mins, b/w and colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

Irit Batsry has been working with video since the early 1980s. In her lyrical work she uses atmospheric, painterly images and short passages of text to explore complex notions of perception and identity. Traces of a presence to come is the third part of the artist's Passage to Utopia (A trilogy). It has been described as 'An epic video work of the highest order, using state of the art technology and an original music score by composer Stuart Jones to create a work of majestic beauty on nature of creation, identity and language. This poetic text is both a journey through personal and collective imaginary worlds and an inquiry into the limits of communication and art at the very edge of our imagination'. (Michael Maziere, London Electronic Arts On-line Catalogue)

BEBAN, Breda
Yugoslavia/England b.1952
Hrvoje Horvatic Yugoslavia/England 1958-98
Absence, she said 1994
16:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

The issues of movement and displacement in this work are particularly important in light of the artist's Yugoslavian backgrounds. Beban originally trained as a painter and Horvatic as a film-maker, and they started collaborating in 1985 because of a shared interest in light, time and 'presence'. A commentator for London Electronic Arts describes Absence, she said as ' . . . a highly atmospheric meditation on stasis and movement, on isolation and belonging. Structurally, the scenes in the tape alternate between the interior space . . . and the exterior urban landscapes, interspersed by short, poetic inter-titles evoking the subjective states of the female character. It is this character who, through her heightened presence at the beginning and the end of the tape, frames events and images, suggesting that they are at once visions, memories and facts, subjective and objective images simultaneously'. (Chris Darke, London Electronic Arts Online Catalogue)

United States b.1973
Sadie Benning videoworks vol. 2
Purchased 1996
A place called lovely 1991
14:00 mins, b/w, mono

A place called lovely refers to the types of violence individuals find in everyday life, from physical beatings and murders to the more insidious violence of lies, social expectations and betrayed faith. In this disquieting work Benning has collected images from a variety of sources, including the tabloid press, movies, children's games and her own personal experiences. Small toys are used as props, handled and controlled in ways that we in turn may be subjected to by larger forces.

Girl Power (part 1) 1992, 15mins, b/w, mono

Video Data Bank in Chicago has been producing and distributing artist's videotapes for over twenty years. In its 1996 catalogue, this raunchy work is aptly described: 'Set to music by Bikini Kill, an all-girl band from Washington DC, Girl power is a raucous vision of what it means to be a radical girl in the '90s. Benning narrates her personal rebellion against school, family, and female stereotypes as a story of personal freedom, telling how she used to model like Matt Dillon and skip school to take adventures alone. Informed by the underground 'riot grrrl' movement, this tape transforms the image politics of female youth, against traditional passivity and polite compliance in favour of radical independence and a self-determined sexual identity.

It wasn't love 1992, 20mins, b/w, mono

In It wasn't love, Benning illustrates (in the privacy of her room, and often using scrawled and handwritten text) a lustful encounter with a so-called 'bad-girl'. The love affair is propelled along by a humorous borrowing of Hollywood stereotypes, the platinum blonde, the vamp and rebel for example. However, with the camera used close up, as a witness to Benning's intimate diaristic revelations, the video goes further than romantic fantasy to touch on the complexities and anxieties of lesbian identity.

Robert Cahen, 'Sept visions fugitives (Seven fugitive visions)', 1995

Robert Cahen
Sept visions fugitives (Seven fugitive visions) (video still) 1995
Purchased 1999 with funds from James C. Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

CAHEN, Robert
France b.1945
Hong Kong song 1989
20:38 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

This leading French video artist has produced a distinguished body of work for cinema and television since 1972. In Cahen's nuanced world, fiction and document alike are presented as metaphoric voyages of the imaginary. They are exquisite reveries that describe passages of time, place, memory and perception. The artist has written that Hong Kong song is an exploration of 'the sonic identity of Hong Kong, its space and architecture. Modern China merges with ancient China; the reality of this city sounds and resounds from image to image, revealing a multifaceted vision'. (Lori Zippay [ed.] Artists' Video: An International Guide, Electronic Arts Intermix, New York, 1991, p.55.)

Sept visions fugitives/Seven fugitive visions 1995
35:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

Sept visions fugitives is a visual diary of a journey in China where Cahen commits his thoughts, feelings, and visions of landscape. Seven places and seven different encounters form the structure of this atmospheric work. In Zippay's comprehensive survey of 1991 on video art, cited above, it is noted that in 'building on his extensive research in acoustics, music, and film-making, Cahen plays with the textures of sound and image to restructure representational modes, from the optical to the sonic, from the 'picturesque' photograph to the conventions of narrative cinema. Resonating with wit and charm, executed with technical precision, his works allude to both formal and thematic motifs of travel, movement, and transition'. (Zippay, p.54.)

Chris Caines, 'Museum of fire', 1991

Chris Caines (Part I)
John Conomos (Part II)
David Haines (Part III)
Museum of fire (video still) 1991
Purchased 1996 with a special allocation from the Queensland Government. Celebrating the Queensland Art Gallery's Centenary 1895-1995
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Australia b.1965
John Conomos Australia b. 1966
David Haines Australia b. 1966
Museum of fire 1991
45:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

A collaboration in three parts, Museum of fire is a poetic and speculative work inspired by an abandoned power station which had been converted into a museum dealing with the history of the New South Wales Fire Brigade. The artists have borrowed from photography, cinema and television to create an array of electronic videoscapes with sound. The result is a highly perceptive work on time and space, which explores a labyrinth of fragmentary memories and dreams.

Australia b.1952
Night's high noon; An anti-terrain 1988
7:26 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

Peter Callas has worked in electronic media for over twenty years, a number of which have been spent in Japan. Night's high noon; An anti-terrain deals with the cultural construction of contemporary Australian identity. The artist states in An Eccentric Orbit (the catalogue of the exhibition on video art in Australia which he curated in 1994), that it was made in part 'as a personal response to the Australian Bicentennial in 1988. It references and reorders Australian history, measuring, as in a restless dream, the disruptive power of white somnambulism against the totemic power of Aboriginal and Islander culture . . . Each scene is constructed in layers to create a [complex emblematic] landscape'. (An Eccentric Orbit: Video Art in Australia, The American Federation of Arts, 1994, pp.22, 28.)

Justine Cooper, 'Rapt', 1998

Justine Cooper
Rapt (video still) 1998
Purchased 1999 with funds from James C. Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Courtesy of the artist and novamedia

COOPER, Justine
Australia/United States b.1968
Rapt 1998
5:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

Cooper worked in photography before employing new imaging technologies for her art practice. She is interested in producing imagery at the intersection of art and science. In Rapt, she has recreated her body by utilising Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans. These sans are used in medicine to map a body as axial slices, by imaging the water content in the body. In this work, the MRI slices appear as animated three-dimensional vision of the body constantly transforming within the conceptual space of the medium. Rapt was awarded first prize at the 1998 National Digital Art Awards (Australia).

New Zealand/Aotearoa b.1946
Resonance 2 1995
24:30 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1997

The artist explains (in a letter to Anne Kirker, 5 Aug. 1996): 'Resonance 2 elicits memories and images triggered by experiences of sound. The sounds of the video - "song-stones", bellpoles, body percussion - are overlaid with stories - sound memories from Dadson's past - memories that resonate in the realm of shared experiences'. Using 'song-stones' played by his hands, with intervals of voice-over, this rhythmic work evokes the sounds of a remote part of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Paul Garrin, 'Free society', 1988

Paul Garrin
Free society (video still) 1988
Purchased 1999 with funds from James C. Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

United States b.1957
Free Society 1988
3:30mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

Paul Garrin met Nam June Paik in 1981 and became one of his most important assistants. Since 1988 he has taught computer art at New York University. That year he gained worldwide attention through his filming of police raids. A commentator for the 'Video Data Bank' 1996 catalogue describes how 'after an all-night session of editing Free society, Garrin headed home with video 8 camera in hand, only to happen upon the Tompkins Square riots. As police tried to enforce a curfew aimed at removing homeless people from the park, Garrin began gathering footage of cops beating up protesting citizens; he was then attacked by police himself without missing a shot. The footage was subsequently incorporated into Free society, dismantling the military myth of "protect and serve" from first-hand experience'.

Australia b.1960
She says, 'The grooves speak' 1987
2:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

By 1987, Queensland-born video artist John Gillies had produced thirteen video works and curated a number of exhibitions and electronic installations. He has performed and recorded with a diverse number of musicians including Jon Rose and Kev Carmody. His video performances include Southwatch (1992). She says, 'The grooves speak' is a short work which explores the erotic and sonic spaces between the grooves of a record, propelled by rhythmic correspondences of sound and image.

Techno/Dumb/Show 1991
20:35 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

Made as a collaborative work between the video-maker and performance artists, Techno/Dumb/Show explores melodrama and its links with the silent screen. John Baylis of The Sydney Front writes: 'Melodrama draws attention to its own histrionic display. It presents a public language of the emotions. The interest is not in psychological subtleties, but in the permutations within a finite array of possible meaning. Techno/Dumb/Show received first prize at the 9th Festival International Video Brasil in 1992'. (An Eccentric Orbit, p.11.)

Australia b.1966
Ghostship - Low 1998
11:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

In Ghostship - Low, Haines reflects on experimental writing and poetry as expressed within the poetic potential of a 'constructed world' or what the theoretician Gilles Deleuze argues is the creation of a constructive otherness, 'otherness as extra reality'. The work is in three sections consisting of three-dimensional virtual cities, oceans, and mountainous landscapes, with blocks of electronic text that flicker across the screen as digital transmissions.

Mona Hatoum, 'So much I want to say', 1985

Mona Hatoum
So much I want to say (video still) 1985
Purchased 1999 with funds from James C. Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Lebanon/England b.1952
So much I want to say 1985
5:00 mins, b/w mono
Purchased 1999

This work was produced two years after the artist graduated from the Slade School of Art in London, where her practice was primarily based in performance, documented on film. She now occupies an important position in both British and international art, developing sculpture with a video component and installation. A large measure of Hatoum's work has focussed upon the corporeal body as a site for artistic exploration and social critique. In So much I want to say, a series of still images unfold (one for every eight seconds), revealing the face of a woman in close-up filling the screen. Two male hands obscure part of her face, sometimes covering it completely. On the soundtrack, repeated over and over again, are the words of the title.

Measures of distance 1988
16:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

Reading aloud from letters sent by her mother in Beirut, Hatoum constructs a visual montage that evokes feelings of separation and isolation from her Palestinian family and their estrangement from a supportive national culture through the brutalities of civil war. The personal and political are inextricably bound in a narrative that explores identity and sexuality against a backdrop of traumatic social rupture, exile and displacement.

HILL, Gary
United States b.1951
Site/Recite a prologue 1989
4:05 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

Gary Hill is among the most significant international artists currently working with video, a medium he started using in 1973. He investigates the relationship between image and language as part of a poetic inquiry; one which is informed by French literary theory (the writings of Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida, for example). 'With startling precision, Site/Recite moves across and around a table-top graveyard - bones, butterfly wings, egg shells, seed pods, crumpled notes, skulls - in a series of seamless edits that present a continuous flow of detailed close-ups. This taxonomy of dispossession, "little deaths that pile up", is juxtaposed to a narration on the linkage between semantic self-consciousness and visual experience.' (Zippay, p.109)

Takahiko Iimura, 'AIUEONN Six', 1994

Takahiko Iimura
Performance: AIUEONN Six (video still) 1994
Purchased 1999 with funds from James C. Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

IIMURA, Takahiko
Japan/United States b.1937
Performance: AIUEONN Six 1994
8:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

In the 1960s and 1970s, Iimura performed and made experimental films, his practice later developing into installation art. Shown as part of a six-monitor video installation at The Kitchen in New York, Performance: AIUEONN Six explores the incoherent relationship between the vowel sounds and characters of the Japanese alphabet and English. The artist grotesquely distorts the screen-image self-portrait, as he enunciates to camera the vowel sounds of English and Japanese. With this project, 'Iimura deconstructs our coherence as he shifts between the English Roman alphabet and Japanese characters, injects spoken Japanese and manipulates the computer images of his features. The images often take on geometrical shapes, others recall the classical images from Japanese woodcuts of a Samurai warrior grimace'.

JOSE, Ellen
Australia b.1951
Marshall White Australia b. 1952
In the balance 1993
2:40 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

In the balance is a collaboration incorporating cultural imagery and music from Ellen Jose's Indigenous background, and state-of-the-art computer animation created by Marshall White. Jose explains in her artist's statement in Next Wave Art & Technology Catalogue (Melbourne, 1994, p.50) that she 'became involve in computer-generated imagery as an extension of my visual practice of photography, painting and sculpture. It provides a way for me to combine all the elements of my work into 3-dimensional time and space . . . To the best of my knowledge I am only one of a handful of Torres Strait and Koori artists to embrace this new technology'. Marshall White has worked solely with computer technology since 1988 for exhibition, theatre and film purposes. The title of his videotape refers to 'life hanging in the balance'.

England b.1942
Granny's Is 1990
78:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

Granny's Is was shot over a ten-year period of a personal and often painful relationship between the artist and his grandmother. The extended video is diaristic, a sort of 'geriatric anthroapologia, videotape and exercise in electronic therapy', says Larcher. It operates on an episodic level, as it interweaves the processes of photography and film together with an almost Proustian approach to remembrance. It is a type of postmodern collage that deconstructs familiar pattern of existence, while reforming itself from primary source material. Granny's Is won first prize at the Bonn Video Festival in 1990.

Text video void 1996
35:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

Text video void commences in a simple minimalist fashion with an electronic trace produced by a single video tape drop-out. This trace is then created into a series of digital landscapes that provide various backgrounds for the flight of a Zenonian arrow travelling towards what appears to be a void. This sense of moving towards nothingness, coupled with the idea of cyberspace, are central themes of this remarkable and technically complex work.

Meena Nanji, 'Voices of the morning', 1992

Meena Nanji
Voices of the morning (video still) 1992
Purchased 1999 with funds from James C. Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

NANJI, Meena
India/United States a. (c.) 1992
Voices of the morning 1992
13:40 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

Of this multiaward-winning video, the Los Angeles-based artist Meena Nanji has written: 'Voices of the morning is an experimental piece that explores the effects of repressive laws upon the female body and psyche. Inspired by the book The Hidden Face of Eve, by Nawaal El Sadaawi, the tape follows the socialisation process of a young woman living under orthodox Islamic law. Resisting traditional definitions of a woman's role in society as only a dutiful daughter or wife, she struggles to find a space for her existence amidst the web of necessities imposed by her restrictive familial and societal conventions'. (Beyond Destination: Film, Video, and Installation by South-Asian Artists [exhibition catalogue], Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 1993.)

New Zealand/Aotearoa b.1971
Lisa Reihana New Zealand/Aotearoa b. 1964
Hyper Girls 1998
3:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

The cultural backgrounds of Ani O'Neill and Lisa Reihana are Polynesian and Maori respectively. In Hyper Girls, aspects of O'Neill and Reihana's Indigenous heritage are juxtaposed with popular culture, fashion and design through a process of segmenting or splitting the 'screen' into a fast-moving display of sound and image. These Pacific Sisters are street-wise young women with a fresh and humorous take on contemporary life. 'Hyper Girls rock, Hyper Girls rule. They bridge the gap between international fashionalism and cultural ambassadors with a mere swoop of the mascara wand, secure in the knowledge that: brown is the new gold, girls are the next boys, and that a place in history is just a newsflash away.' (Artists' statement to  Anne Kirker, March 1999.)

United States b.1938
Acquired 1996 and 1998

Program 1 1970
30:00 mins, b/w, colour, silent
Program 2 1970
14:56 mins, b/w, colour, silent
Program 3 1972-74
24:30 mins, b/w, colour, sound
Program 4 1971-72
44:50 mins, b/w, silent
Program 5 1970-71
37:45 mins, b/w, colour, silent
Program 6 1971-72
27:18 mins, b/w, colour, sound and silent
Program 7 1968-72
31:09 mins, b/w, colour, sound and silent
Program 8 1969-72
28:00 mins, b/w, sound and silent

In body-art works from the early 1970s, Oppenheim exploited his own body as art material, working through ideas abut identity, genetics, family, time, memory and the instability of our interior and exterior worlds. Short films and videotapes recorded performative actions that evolved as exchanges or interactions between Oppenheim's body and natural elements - rocks, leaves, glass, wood. In some pieces, these gestures involved a kind of self-negation; other work in reverse, as Oppenheim leaves imprints or traces of himself. In several of these pieces, objects or body parts are transformed or distorted through extreme close-up or movement. In others, voice-overs provide a narrative counterpoint to performances in which emblematic items of clothing relate to Oppenheim's family.

PAIK, Nam June
Korea/United States b.1932
Global groove 1973
28:30 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

Nam June Paik is an outstanding early exponent of video art and assemblage. Global groove, an iconoclastic work exploring the juncture of art and popular culture, was made in association with John J. Godfrey. It is regarded as a major achievement in the history of video art and a potent achievement in the history of video art and a potent indicator of postmodernism. 'This is a glimpse of the video landscape of tomorrow, when you will be able to switch to any TV station on the earth, and TV Guide will be as fat as the Manhattan telephone book' is the opening revelation of Global groove. 'This radical manifesto on global communications in a media-saturated world is rendered as a frenetic electronic collage, a sound-and-image pastiche that subverts the language of television. With surreal visual wit and an antic neo-Dada sensibility, Paik manipulates an emblematic pastiche of multicultural elements, artworld figures and pop iconography.' (Zippay, p. 157.)

MAJORCA - fantasia 1989
4:52 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

As with most of Paik's videotapes, their production relies upon a number of collaborators. In this instance, Paul Garrin assisted the artist in realising MAJORCA - fantasia as 'a densely textured collage of often discordant, often beautiful visual and aural elements. To an exquisite musical composition of Chopin, as interpreted by Charlie Morrow, Paik and Paul Garrin create a surreal pastiche of fragmented, manipulated elements: The late Joseph Beuys is seen in a performance piece, dancer Amy Greenfield folls in mud, Paik is shown destroying a piano in an early performance. At once witty and startling, Paik and Garrin's unexpected juxtapositions and layered electronic alterations of this material are applied with virtuosic control. In particular, the powerful distortions of Beuys's performance become a haunting homage to the late artist.' (Zippay, p. 161.)

Australia b.1965
Lustre 1999
1:00 mins, colour, silent
Purchased 1999

Lustre is a meditation on aesthetics and desire for the smooth, seamless surfaces so prominent in consumer culture. The form in Lustre is vaguely familiar. It is not a car, but car-like. Its never-ending undulating, reflective, glossy surface is sensuously appealing. For a moment it is mesmerising to watch the reflections change, there is a kind of respite from all the other worries in life. As the form revolves it slowly decomposes; it seems to rust until it reaches its final point where the entire surface is covered with rust-like crevices. Ironically, it is at this point that the form most resembles the earth as seen from outer space. The point of course is to acknowledge - even revel in - the impossibility of such a perfect surface. The lustre is jut a thin veneer - beautiful but easily displaced by whatever 'reality' lurks within. (Artist's statement to Brian Langer, March 1999.)

Australia b.1952
Continental drift 1991
12:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

Jill Scott trained in video art and communications at San Francisco State University and has exhibited extensively in Australia, Japan, Europe, and North America. 'Continental drift deals with the drifting cellular structure of the body's interior landscape and compares this with the changing condition of the earth's outer crust. Water is used as a metaphor for "the life force" and the videotape is punctuated by graphic models of geological, medical and atomic structures which emphasise similarity between the processes of excavation and speculation in the landscape and (both Eastern and Western) methods of treatment in human illness. Continental drift was inspired by the artist's own experience of being cured of breast cancer.' (An Eccentric Orbit, p.13.)

SILVER, Shelly
United States b.1957
37 stories about leaving home 1996
52:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

Through investigating how contemporary identity is both reflected and constructed by television and cinema, Silver questions storytelling, role-playing and the means by which popular narratives articulate fictions of the self. In 37 stories about leaving home, a group of Japanese women living in the Tokyo area recount personal stories of their own experiences of leaving home. In them one can begin to see, from very personal and individual perspectives, the societal changes that have occurred over the last three generations for women in Japan, bringing an often conflicting array of choices and positions. Many of the stories revolve around the relationships these grandmothers, mothers, and daughters have with each other, filled with respect, rebellion, loss and love. The interviews are framed by a traditional Japanese folktale, a magical and somewhat shocking narrative of a mother's search for her abducted daughter, kidnapped by a monster on the eve of her wedding.

Australia b.1963
Air, water (part 3) 1993
6:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

Air, water (part 3) is the final piece from a series of short works that explore early modes of computer animation and new dimensions of space, time, rhythm and movement created as 'electronic animation'. In this work, Tonkin combines his own three-dimensional computer programming with a specially composed (non-electronic) musical arrangement to create a dream-like journey through a watery underworld.

Czechoslovakia/United States b.1937
Art of memory 1987
36:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

Art of memory was produced with the Digital Image Articulator which Vasulka began building with colleagues in 1976. Marita Sturken writes in Machine Media: Steina and Woody Vasulka (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1996, p.32) that 'it is both a reflection on the discourse of history and the fragmentary experience of memory, while at the same time it explores the potential of the electronic image to become an object and depart from the two-dimensional video screen. This compelling work, which is comprised of image forms that radically redefine the electronic image, is concerned with the transposition of the photographic and cinematic into the electronic. The subject of Art of memory is the catastrophic events through which twentieth-century history has been defined - the Spanish Civil War, the Russian Revolution, World War II, the nuclear bomb - and, by extension, the images of those events formed in cultural memory'.

VIOLA, Bill 
United States b.1951
Chott el-Djerid (A portrait in light and heat) 1979
28:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purhased 1999

Bill Viola's videotapes and installations are outstanding instances of the genre. They are distinguished by an exploration of transcendental philosophy through a virtuosic control of technology. In this early instance, the artist writes that 'Chott el-Djerid is the name of a vast dry salt lake in the Tunisian Sahara desert where mirages are most likely to form in the midday sun. Here, the intense desert heat manipulates, bends, and distorts the light rays to such an extent that you actually see things which are not there. Trees and sand dunes float off the ground, the edges of mountains and buildings ripple and vibrate, colour and form blend into one shimmering dance. In this piece, the desert mirages are set against images of the bleak winter prairies of Illinois and Saskatchwan, where the opposite climatic conditions induce a similar aura of uncertainty, disorientation, and unfamiliarity'. (Zippay, p.100.)

The passing 1991
54:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1996

The passing is a haunting visual experience which seems to inhabit a penumbral world between dream and reality. Throughout the tape, Viola's sleep is interrupted by surging, primal memories and by intimations of mortality. These fleeting thoughts are brought more clearly into focus via images of his family (his infant son and dying mother) and, in turn, are connected to the passage of generations and the ceaseless cycle of birth and death. The artist states that The passing ' . . . is a personal response to the spiritual extremes of a birth and a death in the family. Utilising black and white nocturnal imagery and underwater scenes, it depicts a twilight world on the borders of human perception and consciousness, where the multiple lives of the mind (memory, reality and fantasy) merge'. (Bill Viola: Buried Secrets/Segreti sepolti, [exhibition catalogue, The United States Pavilion, 46th Venice Biennale], 1995, p.38.)

Déserts 1994
26:00 mins, colour, stereo
Purchased 1999

The Ensemble Modern, a contemporary music group based in Frankfurt, asked Viola if he would be interested in creating a visual score for avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse's Déserts. Viola accepted the commission and the film/videotape was then produced with the European television station ZDF/Arte. In October 1994, Viola's Déserts premiered in a live performance in Vienna with conductor Peter Eétvs and the Ensemble Modern.

WEGMAN, William
United States b.1943
Selected works: Reel 4 (version 3) 1973-74
27:50mins, b/w, mono
Purchased 1996

A postmodern, conceptual humorist, Wegman is a master of whimsy and the absurd. Reel 4 has deadpan monologues, parodic commercials and absurdist anecdotes with Man Ray (his famous Weimaraner and alter ego), including visual one-liners in which the dog is subjected to hilarious indignities. For instance, Man Ray sleeps peacefully until startled by a loud alarm clock; poses awkwardly with his paw on a ball; endures a barrage of falling paper. Also included are classic monologue pieces, in which Man Ray serves as the comic foil for Wegman's droll fictions.