Critics’ Picks

Installation view, 2005.

Installation view, 2005.

New York

Kota Ezawa

Murray Guy
453 West 17th Street
September 9–October 15, 2005

The kid-friendly feeling of animation clings to Kota Ezawa’s remakes of “serious” video works and documents. Take, for instance, his current installation: A simple arrangement of three projections placed side-by-side with audio bubbles for listening hung from the ceiling. The projection on the left remakes archival footage of a press conference during John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous Amsterdam “Bed In” for peace in 1969. The center animation recreates Susan Sontag lecturing at Columbia in 2001. The third is a take on Joseph Beuys’ 1974 talk at the New School in New York, where he discussed his ideas about art and invited audience members onstage to debate him. There’s something comical about all this: the flat colors; the moving, animated eyes and mouths; the range of accents; the overlapping of voices, which suggests the chatter at an extra discourse-y cocktail party. The project also conjures South Park or The Simpsons, smart animated TV shows that employ well-known actors whose famous voices register through a disembodied context, or Robert Smigel’s Fun with Real Audio. With Ezawa, however, the voices and images remain the same as in the originals; only the format has been altered, reminding us that culture is just as reliant on proper packaging as any other arena in life: Politics, business, or entertainment.