Art of Memory

  • 20.1.2017 - 12.9.2017, Listasafn Íslands

On the occasion of Woody Vasulka's (b. 1937) 80th birthday, the Vasulka Chamber holds a special exhibition of the video work Art of Memory, but now 30 years have passed since it was originally exhibited in 1987.

The exhibition of the work is appropriate at this turning point, as the viewer is in an effective way led into the past on a journey through a dreamlike and vast landscape with references to history.

At the exhibition some parts of the archives of Vasulka Chamber will also be displayed.

Steina and Woody Vasulka have taken good care of their legacy and preserved all data concerning their art and work. When the Vasulka Chamber was founded in late 2014, they gave a big part of their archives to the Icelandic National Gallery for preservation, original art works, sketch books, documentary films, a collection of books, photographs, exhibition programmes, awards, articles, posters and personal documents.

Woody Vasulka, Art of Memory, 1987, 36 min., color, sound
Art of Memory is a major work, an original and mature articulation of Vasulka's inquiry into the meaning of recorded images. Constructing a haunted theater of memory from a spectacle of filmic and electronic images, Vasulka collapses and transforms collective memory and history in an enigmatic space and time. The monumental landscape of the American Southwest is the mythic site onto which he inscribes newsreel footage of war — ghostly images that become malleable, sculptural forms through constant electronic transmutations.

In this metaphorical vision, the recorded image becomes a monument to the past; history becomes cultural memory through photography and cinema. Vasulka locates the trauma of 20th century history in filmic images of violent events, including the Spanish Civil War, the Russian Revolution, World War II and the advent of the nuclear bomb. Presided over by a winged creature of conscience, history and memory are seen to be manipulated by the history and memory of images. In a breathtaking conjoinment of the apparatuses of war, history and the media, Vasulka achieves a poignant, ultimately tragic memory theater.

With: Daniel Nagrin, Klein. Voices: Doris Cross. Videotools: Rutt/Etra, Jeffrey Schier. Collaboration: Bradford Smith, Penelope Place, Steina, David Aubrey.

Text from Electronic Arts Intermix (http://www.eai.org/titles/2103