Jack Goldstein, An online exhibition by Anne Colvin and Phillip Kaiser.
'I have always been drawn to Jack Goldstein's film work. I love his temporal conceit, his use of color, his ironic sense of spectacle and his keenly developed study of the image as event. His work is simple yet monumental, a rare combination. He slaps you in the face. He is one of my favorite artists, profound often dark, powerful and explosive.
Sometimes in moments of doubt I think my work is too short, too fleeting then I am reminded of Jack where very often “image is more sculpture than film” and my faith is restored.
Jack Goldstein x 10,000, the first US Museum retrospective at Orange County Museum of Art (originally planned for the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA) has just closed, a fascinating show which guest curator Phillip Kaiser points out “illustrates the incomparable presence and simultaneous absence of the artist: a motif that runs through his entire body of work”.
“An exhilarating survey of a single artist's work now on exhibit at Orange County Museum of Art, Jack Goldstein x 10,000 is, insanely, the late Canadian-born artist's first American retrospective. Covering multiple mediums―film, painting, writing, sculpture, performance and sound design (and all of it brilliant and visionary)―it's the short movies, one sculpture and an installation that feel most like a direct plug-in to Goldstein's psyche. Guest curator Phillip Kaiser resurrects the artist as a man who put himself out there, took risks and, sadly/typically, never attained the same status as many of the artists he's often lumped in with, including Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo” - Dave Barton, OC Weekly.
I invited Phillip to select five works which together with my own selection and text form a conversation borne out of mutual admiration for this brilliant, enigmatic artist'.
Phillip Kaiser's selection:
1. The Jump (1978)
In his seductive 16mm film The Jump
in which a glittering diver executes a spinning flip against a dark background in an endless loop, Goldstein used the labor-intensive rotoscope process to defamiliarize a sequence from Leni Riefenstahl’s film Olympia
(1938). Goldstein never revealed the “semi-secret” of his source. Indeed, Goldstein was less attracted by the direct use of Nazi material than by its iconographic weight, as well as the power of mass media in National Socialism: “I was interested in spectacle and war is spectacle; the Third Reich was pure spectacle. They certainly understood media, didn’t they"?
2. Untitled (1981)
Acrylic on canvas 84 x 132 in.
(Courtesy of Collection Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond J. Learsy)
A painting that caused quite a stir on account of its use of the famous image by Life photographer Margaret Bourke-White of the September 1941 bombardment of the Kremlin, glorifies the view of Moscow’s emblematic skyline as a picturesque meteorological light event. The radical enlargement and decontextualization of the photojournalistic war image against a black background illustrates in a theatrical manner how such images float, freely available, on their support and how, despite their facticity they generate a cinematographic experience.
3. Burning Window 1977
(the Estate of Jack Goldstein and 1301PE, Los Angeles)
The performance takes place in an long, empty, rectangular room with a black ceiling. One wall is painted red. A standard panel window with a red frame is installed on the red wall. Behind this textured red plexiglass panes; flickering electric candles simulate the appearance of fire. The window functions as a "safe" but fragile barrier in front of which the spectator is witness to the world outside as a measureless inferno. This spectacle, which may be felt ambiguously both as "real" and as a "cinematic" illusion, calls into question the “truth” of visual experience.
4. The Planets, 1984
Suite of 6 records 10-inch 33 1/3 rpm black vinyl with black labels. Side 1 and Side 2 repeat or describe each other. 36 min. total duration.
The 45s form a large circle on a pointed yellow or red wall, as if they were planets themselves in our galaxy. Each record has to be played in order to locate from our memory what planet each record might suggest. The records are made up of found musical recording, from sci-films that have been remixed to suggest to the viewer what planet he or she might be listening to. Since 90% of the universe is in total blackness, and one needs a telescope to reveal what is out there, through meditation – one has to play the record to locate its identity – Jack Goldstein.
5. Jack, 1973
16 mm, color, sound, 11’24’’
(Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne and the Estate of Jack Goldstein).
Anne Colvin's selection:
1. MGM (1975)
I saw this piece in all its vibrant glory at the California College of Arts in San Francisco several years ago. Projected against one of his ubiquitous colored walls--in this case a red--the golden lion burned an image in my mind. It ignited the wall and the surrounding space creating an interesting dynamic where the wall became the object and the roar became the event.
This piece directly influenced one of my first video works, an in-between space where a gestural tic becomes a small monument; a few extended seconds of re-filmed footage from a winking reality show contestant.
2. Two Fencers (1977) Performance, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève, CH.
(Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne and the Estate of Jack Goldstein).
Two fencers dressed in white, bathed in a soft, red light evoke a memory reminiscent of a scene from an Eroll Flynn movie. After a short sequence, the spotlight dimmed and the music replayed. Fascinated by Goldstein's exploration of the interstitial space between real and cinematic time, I restaged this piece for a project at Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive with two members of the CAL Fencing team. Watching this 'performance event' was clearly unlike anything I or the audience had ever experienced; a combination of an image come to life and viewing a film clip from a distance. The sense of thrill and excitement was palpable, one of those “you had to be there” moments!
3. The Chair (1975)
4. The Tornado (1976)
For Jack Goldstein sounds were pictures, "I arrive at a sound through an image." The Tornado
is drawn from his Suite of Nine 7-inch Records with Sound Effects, each record a different color. The Tornado
I interviewed George Kuchar last year just before he died for the Frieze blog
specifically in relation to his video series Weather Diaries
. Every spring for the past 30 years George traveled to El Reno in Oklahoma where he holed up in a mid-century motel to wait for the “deadly fury” of mid-western tornados. George talked about how “it’s thrilling to look at nature from a distance”. The Tornado
reminds me of him, a wonderful connection to make.
, born in Berne/Switzerland in 1972, studied art history and German literature at the Universities of Basel and Hamburg and received his PhD from the University of Basel. From 2001 to 2007 he was curator for modern and contemporary art at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel, where he conceived numerous individual exhibitions with artists such as Louise Lawler, Christian Philipp Müller, Simon Starling, Johanna Billing, and Bruce Nauman, as well as group exhibitions such as Flashback: Revisiting the Art of the 80s
From March 2007 he served as curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) and held the position of Senior Curator until 2010. Having realized the first solo show with Sterling Ruby, and exhibitions on California conceptual art he recently co-curated the large-scale exhibition Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974
with Miwon Kwon (Professor of Art History at UCLA) at MOCA that will travel to the Haus der Kunst in Munich later this year. He has recently been named the new director of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne/Germany to succeed Kasper Koenig.
In addition to his curatorial responsibilities, he has written numerous articles on contemporary art for publications and magazines such as Artforum, Kunst-Bulletin, and Parkett and has been teaching Art History at the Academy of Fine Arts, Karlsruhe/Germany and the University of California (UCLA).
Anne Colvin is a Scottish artist based in San Francisco who works primarily with the moving image. Colvin was included in The Very Eye of Night, inspired by the eponymous Maya Deren work at Jancar Gallery, Los Angeles (2012) and Long Play: Bruce Conner and the Singles Collection at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2010).
Her work has been shown at venues such as Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York; Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York; Moyra Davey's One Minute Film and Video, Narrowsburg, New York; Torrance Art Museum, California; Mare Street Biennale, Artistspace, London; SF Camerawork and SF Arts Commission Gallery among others. Colvin is currently included in System Operations in conjunction with the ZERO1 Biennial at Eli Ridgway Gallery, San Francisco and Fits and Starts at Agency, Los Angeles. Upcoming exhibitions include a two person show with Margaret Tait at Mills College Art Museum, Oakland and Modern Edinburgh Film School, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.
Colvin's curatorial projects have been commissioned by Berkeley Art Museum; New Langton Arts and David Cunningham Projects, San Francisco. Her publishing projects have been presented at the NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 with White Columns, New York and Poetic Research Bureau, Los Angeles. Anne is visiting faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Many thanks to Phillipp who in the midst of his move from LA to Cologne took time out to contribute and to Johnny Sampson, associate curator at OCMA for all his logistical assistance.
Jack Goldstein x 10,000 will travel to the Jewish Museum in New York next year.
Videos in this exhibition /