Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art Does Video
Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art calls its current exhibit
Video Jam, and these folks aren't kidding. The 42 pieces of video art so congest
the 6,400 square foot museum that it'll put you on sensory overload. Co-curators
Michael Rush and Galen Joseph Hunter have glutted the Lake Worth space with "an
intentional excess of work."
The moving images vie for attention. Some of the art is presented on screens
suspended from the ceiling; others are projected on the Lake Worth museum's huge
white walls. Still others are displayed on TV-VCR set ups mounted on walls and
standing in the middle of the room.
Most of the installations include headphones for museum-goers to don, but those
that don't create a din. Many soundtracks are projected into the rooms with
their images creating an acoustic nightmare where one soundtrack spills into
another. The viewer has trouble distinguishing what track belongs with which
piece of art.
But I say that like it's a bad thing:
Actually, here the installation of the exhibit is its own art. It explores the
sensory interruptions we each experience day-to-day with the increasing amount
of technology around us - televisions in restaurants, offices, and retail
stores; piped-in music every-goddamned-where; video cameras monitoring our
coming and going who-knows-where.
We've become so accustomed to these moving images, we're almost non-plussed when
a closed-circuit camera and video monitor greet us as we enter the PB/ICA lobby.
If you're like me, you'll likely assume the camera has been set up for security.
And if you're like me, you'll glimpse at your image on the monitor for vanity's
sake and quickly look away so that no one catches you indulging your vanity. But
something will strike you as odd. Not one but two monitors survey this lobby at
exactly the same angle, but one does not project your ugly mug or your loping
gait. So you have to look again. Really look. On the second monitor, PB/ICA
staff passes casually through the lobby. Then a young woman enters. Like us, she
glimpses herself in the monitor, but then begins to play to the camera. She
pirouettes, strikes poses, and really hams it up.
Okay, you guessed it. It's art. It's Alix Pearlstein's "(Mirror) Stage: Palm
Beach," which plays the pre-recorded tape concurrently with the live
The exhibit includes videotaped performance art. Among these are Patty Chang's
creations that titillate the viewer as they objectify their subject. In
"Melons," the artist stands before the camera in her bra with a plate poised on
her head. Her enormous breasts are disproportionate to her slight frame. She
cuts through her amply filled bra with a large knife to reveal cantaloupes and
begins to scoop their contents out with a spoon - depositing seeds on the plate
and fruit in her mouth. In "Shaved," we must confess our own voyeurism as we
watch the blindfolded artist shave her vagina.
Les Leveque's "4 Vertigo" re-interprets the Hitchcock classic by using the film
in its entirety to create a hypnotic piece as it spins, divides, mirrors, and
re-forms the images in a psychedelic kaleidoscope.
Among the social critique and the performance art, you'll find other videos that
are more painterly in their approach as they abstract its components. But none
among them are protest videos like those of the 1970s that developed the art
Video Jam's curators admit that no theme governed the selection for this
exhibit, but their selection of work from the newest generation of video artists
does convey ideas concerning invasion of privacy, voyeurism, and the sheer speed
of modern life.
August 19, Video Jam at Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, 601
Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33460.
Visit their website:
www.palmbeachica.org for more.