From November 10, 2005, to May 21, 2006, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present the exhibition Double Feature: Steve McQueen and Peter Sarkisian. Organized by Benjamin Weil, SFMOMA’s adjunct curator of media arts, the exhibition features two works—Drumroll (1998) by Steve McQueen and Dusted (1998) by Peter Sarkisian—drawn from SFMOMA’s collection. Double Feature, an exhibition format initiated by SFMOMA’s Department of Media Arts, aims to create a dialogue between two artists’ projects, presenting them side by side to reveal affinities and provoke unexpected associations.
Drumroll and Dusted both address concerns related to the notion of the real and the mediated, marking the shift that occurs with the introduction of video as a means to record reality. Both works investigate the privilege inherent in the technologically mediated gaze. The visitor experiences multiple viewpoints simultaneously—an impossibility without mechanical assistance. The camera becomes a third eye.
Sarkisian’s Dusted, a five-channel video projection, plays off the idea of representation as the illusion of the real, confronting the viewer’s voyeuristic complicity in gazing at naked bodies entrapped in a glass box. Sarkisian is known for his three-dimensional sensory environments, which combine sound, image, and form to create an alternate reality. In this case, a glass cube seems to contain two naked individuals (a man and a woman) whose presence is revealed gradually as they move inside the space, and clean the dust from the glass surface, transferring it to their own bodies. The illusion of bodily presence is enhanced by the multiple projections—each panel presents a different angle on the figures, with all five videos synchronized to suggest three-dimensional movement.
McQueen’s Drumroll was created using an open-ended barrel fitted with three cameras that the artist pushed along the streets and sidewalks of Manhattan. The spinning views of New York City recorded from the three camera angles are presented as a triptych. The work combines the artist’s interest in performance art, improvisation, music, the tradition of film, and the cinematic experience.
Sarkisian juxtaposes the mediated (the projection) and the real (the sculpture) to create a hybrid object. McQueen explores cinematic technique as a seductive means of reprocessing reality; the sculptural object is not physically present in his work, but it is fundamental to his rendering of street life. The two works offer complimentary outside-in and an inside-out viewpoints, allowing the visitor to ponder where to draw the line of reality.
This is the first time both works are installed at SFMOMA.
On Thursday, November 10 at 7 p.m., SFMOMA’s Education Department will present a talk with the artists and exhibition curator Benjamin Weil.