Richard C. Ledes

  • Kazuo Katase

    Born in Japan into the tradition of Jodo Shin Shu Buddhism (Buddhism of the pure land), Kazuo Katase moved to West Germany in the ’70s. His work combines elements of both European and Asian culture, particularly the sacred arts of Buddhism and Christianity. Katase filters these traditions through contemporary technology in order to express a meditative bridge between two different ways of encountering the world. The resulting mood is perhaps more philosophical than religious.

    For his gallery-size installation entitled Nightwatch, 1990, the walls have been painted red, the lights turned off, and

  • “Disarming Genres”

    Independent video’s woeful lack of distribution is matched only by television’s ubiquity; and as a result some of the best independent video examines its culturally potent mass-media counterpart. Curator Micki McGee has brought together work that draws on and analyzes familiar film and television genres. By subverting the seductiveness of media staples, the artists represented here hope to subvert the genres’ prescribed endings toward more interactive concepts of the viewer’s role.

    Dry Kisses Only, 1990, by Kaucyi la Brooke and Jane Cottis is a witty and incisive look at lesbian subtexts in

  • Samuel Beckett

    Samuel Beckett’s rigorous attention to the staging of his own plays engendered a kind of orthodoxy where their production is concerned that has only recently begun to give way in the face of new approaches to his work. Not surprisingly, this reevaluation of Beckett’s oeuvre has been fueled by his own forays into media that fall outside traditional literary genres.

    Many artists of the last 20 years have moved from performance to other artistic media that draw attention to the body’s presence or absence in various ways. In a sense Beckett’s video production is as much about performance as about

  • Dorit Cypis

    Dorit Cypis has gained a well-deserved reputation for her provocative composite photographs, as well as for her performances and multimedia installations. Cypis’ photographs often consist of an erotic image of a female body juxtaposed with a differently biased image of a body, such as from a medical textbook. Each of the two images presupposes the subject’s relation to the body in a different way; within one composite photograph, Cypis transgresses the borders separating both image types. Her goal is to reclaim the body from existing representational codes.

    This installation, called The Naked

  • David Smith

    David Smith works with a deliberately limited set of semiotic codes about the Vietnam War, which varies slightly with each piece. Among these codes are numbers in rows, silhouettes of military aircraft, insignias, and photographs bordered with dates. The artist “saw combat” as a marine in Vietnam. But for Smith seeing and recollection are not unambiguous referential acts. In a text accompanying the exhibition, he describes his use of “invention” to “regain memory,” constructing images on the basis of logical, military codes. The various elements are arranged according to both computer-generated

  • Penny Arcade, Deborah Margolin

    Penny Arcade and Deborah Margolin are two artists who, despite important differences, share similar approaches to performance. Margolin began hers by asking the audience for feedback about the way she was dressed. Arcade, who followed Margolin, began by getting her appearance ready while she addressed the audience. When Margolin left the stage and sat in the audience, Arcade, coming on stage from the audience, sardonically complimented her. They carried on a sassy exchange about differences in their work, their appearances, and their backgrounds. Part of the audience’s enjoyment came from the

  • 1989 Biennial (Film & Video)

    Despite the limitations inherent in trying to select from two years of work, the film and video section of the Whitney Biennial represented an impressive range of work that pointed to an even greater range of possibilities. In the face of the thin sliver of choices sanctioned by the dominant market forces of film and television, a tropical forest of rare and beautiful work continues to hang on elsewhere and by other means. Mainstream film has generally been forced to abandon two of its greatest resources: the use of black and white stock, with its potential for dramatic conflict, and a conscious

  • Lynn Hershman

    In her multi-part video work The Electronic Diary, 1985–89, Lynn Hershman asserts that the diary “has long been a way for women to understand their private thoughts and experiences.” The use of the definite article in the work’s title is one indication that Hershman’s project goes beyond what was once isolated under the rubric “private”: she is interested in what makes one story definite and all others indefinite. Her editing, particularly in the first segment, “Confessions of a Chameleon,” often reduces what she is saying to a sound bite—without, however, hiding this through the tropes of

  • Daniel Faust

    Daniel Faust has put together a 90-minute programmed display of his photographs entitled A Slide Show, 1989, for which Dan Cameron has composed the music (some of it an eclectic blend of existing recordings) and Michael Ballou has designed two collaged panels for either side of the screen, and seating in the form of benches. The vast majority of Faust’s slides are of various museum exhibitions, with a special attention paid to wax museums—the ultimate instance, the viewer is soon convinced, of the hyperreal.

    Among the 960 images are a number of Elvis Presleys, Adolf Hitlers, William Shakespeares,

  • Sam Samore

    In Sam Samore’s recent work, the artist differentiates his photographs by decade only. (All of the photographs in this exhibition were entitled Photograph, 1980’s.) Samore further blurs questions of time frame and authorship by having a private detective, or a surveillance photographer,actually take pictures for him. The graininess of the images indicates the surreptitious manner in which they were taken. Each photograph concentrates our attention on a single person. These subjects are caught unaware; they know neither Samore nor the photographer. The people have been spied upon, and the viewer

  • Ellen Fisher

    In her new performance work, Dreams within Dreams: The Life of Edgar Allan Poe, Ellen Fisher shows the influence both of Robert Wilson and of her frequent collaborator, Meredith Monk. Nonetheless, she succeeds in establishing a theatrical sensibility of her own. As the title of the piece would suggest, the atmosphere here is that of a dream. A TV monitor made to look like an oval Victorian portrait of a woman hangs on one of the walls and is just perceptibly moving. Two women, dressed identically in white linen nightgowns, enter the stage and proceed silently to mirror each other’s movement

  • Dennis Adams, Alfredo Jaar, Jeff Wall

    The works that were displayed here focus on an important force in much current art work—the use of mimicry as a strategy of (mis)representation in order to destabilize the narrative, and in so doing, to disrupt in some way the flow of dominant culture. Dennis Adams, Alfredo Jaar, and Jeff Wall were each represented by a single work, all three of which involve transparencies in illuminated display cases. Like advertisements in places such as fast-food restaurants and bus shelters (or, perhaps more importantly, TV’s), they emit light toward the viewer. Because of the familiarity of the viewer with