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Bradbury Gallery presents The Human Condition, video art exhibition, Aug. 24-Sept. 28


The first exhibition of the Bradbury Gallery 2012-13 season The Human Condition opens to the public on Friday, August 24 at noon.  A public reception will be held the following week on Thursday, August 30 from noon to 3 pm.  In its eleven years the Bradbury Gallery has featured numerous videos and new media works, but for the first time it will present an exhibition devoted entirely to video art.  This show is a tribute to the spirit of our humanness and to this popular genre.

The moving image emerged at the end of the 19th century, altering the possibilities for all types of image making. Video technology came into existence in the middle of the 20th century, introducing a new, accessible medium to that generation of visual artists.  Widespread use of video as a form of visual art began in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  By the 1990s every contemporary art venue from galleries and museums to festivals and biennials was exhibiting video works projected on monitors, walls and screens, buildings, objects and everything in between.  Today video art and installation is a common and readily available form of visual art.

The Human Condition will feature seven works by internationally respected artists, including Patty Chang from New York; Jonas Dahlberg from Stockholm, Sweden; Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay; Columbian artist Oscar Muñoz; Hiraki Sawa, a Japanese filmmaker who lives and works in London; Berni Searle from Cape Town, South Africa; and a collaboration by Panamanian artists Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker. 

Although Chang began her career as a painter, she is best known for her videos and performance art.  In 2006 The New York Times called her "one of our most consistently exciting young artists."  Just as some artists use paint or clay, Chang uses her breath, her body movements, and her facial expressions to address the isolation felt when confronted with suffering. Chang says the immediacy or “urgency” of performance is what attracts her to this medium.  She comments "When dealing with psychological and physical states, using the body is a direct way to link them together." Untitled (Eels) which is included in the exhibition is a riveting example of Chang's ability to delve fearlessly into disturbing states of mind and body.

Chang has received grants from a variety of organizations and has exhibited worldwide in numerous venues including the Baltic Art Center in Sweden and the Guggenheim Museum of Art in New York. 

Dahlberg’s early career was focused on the study of architecture but after a few years he shifted his primary concentration to the visual arts. This change ultimately led him to combine these interests in a variety of ways, among them his series of videos of architectural spaces. He feels in his work “Architecture is addressed as a political place influencing how we understand ourselves, and how the body and mind experience the outside world.”

In Shadow Room seen in this exhibition, the camera slowly pans back and forth inside a room, recalling the movement of a surveillance camera. With each successive round, the room fills more and more with shadows of trees until it is nearly completely immersed, and obscured.

In addition to video and video installation, his practice includes public art, sculpture, book projects and photography. His work has been seen in many locations around the world, one of the most recent being his set design for the opera Macbethat the Grand Theatre in Geneva.

The internationally renowned artist Marclay, became interested in punk, hip-hop, performance art, and experimental music while studying painting in New York in 1978.  This became a profound influence on his career, inspiring his diverse body of work that explores the relationship between sound and vision, what we see and what we hear.  “The difference between mixing sound and mixing images is that sound is so much more abstract,” says Marclay. “If you take a record and slow it down, you might not be able to recognize it. But if you take a film and do the same treatment, you will still recognize it.”

In his videos, he uses readily identifiable films that are part of our shared cultural history. Telephones, his video seen in this exhibition, is made up of movie clips from the 1930s to the 1990s. Through the clips he has chosen and the editing process, Marclay produced an evocative film.  It features a wide array of actors, such as Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Stanwyck, Sean Connery, Heather Locklear, and Humphrey Bogart, starring in films ranging from The Birds to Sleepless in Seattle.  This visually engaging, funny, and quirky video captivates viewers through moments of humor and loosely constructed narrative.

After winning the 2011 Golden Lion, the official award for the best artist at the Venice Biennale, Marclay was recognized by Newsweekmagazine as one of the ten most important artists of today.

In Sawa's magical video Dwelling, digitally inserted miniature passenger airplanes fly about in a nondescript apartment.  This haunting video of a dreamlike universe is an excellent example of understated domestic surrealism.   Using grainy black and white footage, Sawa’s video is as mysterious and evocative as it is comical. Set entirely in Sawa’s apartment, the work addresses notions of displacement and melancholy.

Sawa has exhibited extensively, including solo exhibitions at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Besançon; Yu-un in Tokyo; Knoxville Museum of Art; Chisenhale Gallery in London; National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne; and the James Cohan Gallery in New York.

In Muñoz’s Re/trato, a hand uses a brush to paint a face on a concrete sidewalk with water. Before the image is finished, the beginning of the portrait has evaporated. The painting continues, and the portrait is in a constant state of reconstruction. Muñoz’s ephemeral material creates a work that reflects on the impermanent nature of images and the transient nature of life.

Producing conceptual pieces in film, photography, and sculpture, Muñoz’s work explores the limits of memory, human loss, and the impermanence of the image.  A recurring pattern in his work is the attempt to capture a portrait in impermanent mediums such as human breath, water, and dust. 

Muñoz’s work has been exhibited in many solo shows in galleries and museums throughout the world and in 2007, Muñoz was invited to participate in the 52nd International Venice Biennale curated by Robert Storr. In the past decade he has participated in group exhibitions and solo exhibitions at many international art institutions, including Pori Art Museum in Finland; The Korea Foundation in Seoul; Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art in Toronto; Institute of International Visual Arts in London; Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid Spain; and the PICA Museum, Perth Australia, to name a few.

In About to Forget, Searle transforms family photographs into a unified image by tracing the silhouettes of the figures onto one sheet of red crepe paper. This action unites two generations of her family, her grandmother and mother, who had been estranged for religious differences. As the paper is immersed in warm water, the ink bleeds, animating the images and providing a meditation on the transient nature of memory while calling into question the notion of connection through bloodlines.

Searle explores South Africa’s complex history, creating photos, films, and multimedia installations in which her own body and identity figure prominently. Though her works are aesthetically alluring in their simplicity, they are politically strong as they speak of a nation still coping with its past.

Searle’s work has appeared in exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art; the Brooklyn Museum; the Kunsthalle Vienna; the Istanbul Modern; and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, among others. Her work was included in the 49th and the 51st Venice Biennale; and the Dakar Biennale in 2000, where she won the DAK’ART 2000 Minister of Culture Prize.

Donna Conlon’s work is a socio-archaeological inquiry into her immediate surroundings. She collects and accumulates objects and images from her daily life, and uses them to reveal the idiosyncrasies of human nature and the contradictions inherent to our contemporary lifestyle.

Jonathan Harker utilizes irony and exaggeration to challenge the language and conventions used in our contemporary lives. His work reveals the invented nature of identity, both personal and collective.

Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker began collaborating in 2006. Their works combine the interests and procedures of their individual practices.  Dry Season, seen in this exhibition, was their first collaboration. Their video uses discarded objects and their inherent properties to comment on mass consumerism, climate and the ironic beauty of our refuse-filled landscapes. 

While both artists have independently had successful international careers, together they have won a production grant from the Harpo Foundation and their collaborations can be found in prestigious collections, including the TEOR/éTica Collection and the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection.

The works of art included in this exhibition are generously on loan from Patty Chang; Jonas Dahlberg and Galerie Nordenhake Berlin/Stockholm; the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Oscar Muñoz and Sicardi Gallery, Houston; Hiraki Sawa and James Cohan Gallery, New York and Shanghai; Berni Searle and Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town; and Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker and Diablo Rosso Gallery, Panamá.

Bradbury Gallery hours are noon to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday and 2 to 5pm on Sunday.  The exhibition and the reception are admission-free and open to the public.  For additional information please contact the Bradbury Gallery at 870-972-3471.