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California Video
At the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, March 15-June 8, 2008

October 9, 2007

LOS ANGELES—Over the past four decades, video has played an increasingly central role in artistic production throughout the world. This has been particularly true in California, where many of the state’s most prominent artists have used the medium to produce some of their most significant works. Co-organized by the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Museum, and on view in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s special exhibition pavilion at the Getty Center, March 15 through June 8 2008, California Video highlights the unique sensibilities of West Coast video, while providing the first major survey of video art produced in California.

California Video will feature more than 50 single-channel videos and 15 installations by 58 artists including Eleanor Antin, John Baldessari, Brian Bress, Nancy Buchanan, Chris Burden, Jim Campbell, Meg Cranston, Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn, Allan Kaprow, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Tony Oursler, Martha Rosler, Jennifer Steinkamp, T.R. Uthco and Ant Farm, Diana Thater, Bill Viola, and William Wegman. Approximately half the works in the exhibition will be drawn from the Getty Research Institute’s (GRI) extraordinary collection of video art, which, since its acquisition of the Long Beach Museum of Art Video Archive in 2006, has become one of the largest institutional collections in the world. The GRI’s superlative collection will be augmented by the loan of important video installations, rarely exhibited historical single-channel works, and a selection of recent works by established and emerging artists.

A highlight of the exhibition will be the reconstruction of the original installation of The Eternal Frame (1975-76), by the Bay Area collectives T. R. Uthco and Ant Farm. The well-known video in this installation depicts the artists re-enacting the iconic Zapruder footage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, while also documenting the puzzled and emotional responses from tourists and passersby.  When presented at the Long Beach Museum of Art in 1976, the video was exhibited on an antique television within an elaborately constructed 1960s living room filled with dozens of pieces of JFK memorabilia.  For the first time since its original installation, a full reconstruction of this piece will be featured in the Getty’s exhibition.

The single-channel video works in the exhibition cover a broad range of activities by artists from Northern and Southern California, including performance and conceptual art, experimental narratives, lush video abstractions, and politically and socially engaged documentaries. A number of these works have rarely or never been publicly exhibited before, including very early videos by the Kipper Kids, Tony Labat, Tony Oursler, and Paul McCarthy.  California Video also showcases work by lesser-known pioneers of the medium, including remarkable performance works by Cynthia Maughan and Wolfgang Stoerchle, early punk music videos by Joe Rees and Target Video, and Arthur Ginsberg’s The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd (1970-75), a surprising experiment in social documentary that is a clear precursor to reality television.
In California Video, a number of spectacular large-scale video installations will be presented, including a new site-specific work by Jennifer Steinkamp, Oculus Sinister (2008), which will be projected inside the oculus of the Getty Museum’s special exhibitions pavilion. Paul Kos’ Chartres Bleu (1983-86) replicates a stained-glass window from Chartres Cathedral, using a tower of 27 video monitors representing each of the window’s 27 panes. Within 12 minutes, the video panes fade from daylight into night. In Jim Campbell’s Home Movies (2006), a 16-foot grid of variably bright LEDs (light emitting diodes) casts a soft light onto the wall behind it, causing viewers to perceive hazy and evocative images reminiscent of home movie footage.  The exhibition also includes the first public exhibition on the West Coast of an installation from Mike Kelley’s Day is Done series, as well as installations by Hilja Keading, Bruce Nauman, Diana Thater, Bill Viola, and Bruce and Norman Yonemoto.

California Video will also feature a “video study room,” which will provide visitors with an alternative way to experience the single-channel works in the exhibition.  Using touchscreen kiosks in the study room, viewers will be able to see all of the single-channel videos in the exhibition on demand, view interviews with selected artists, and read additional biographical information about each artist.  The video study room will also feature additional videos not on view in the main exhibition.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated companion book, California Video: Artists and Histories. Featuring extensive entries on each artist, this volume includes more than three dozen new interviews, as well as video transcripts, rare reprints, historical and interpretive essays, and hundreds of illustrations.

California Video is co-organized by the Getty Research Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum, and is curated by Glenn Phillips, senior projects specialist and consulting curator, Department of Contemporary Programs and Research, Getty Research Institute.

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Rebecca Taylor
Getty Communications

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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