Critics’ Picks

Installation view of Tom Friedman’s “Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces,” 2018.

Installation view of Tom Friedman’s “Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces,” 2018.


Tom Friedman

Via Spontini 8
March 24–May 26, 2018

Usually, the minimum condition for projecting a video is that the room is dark or at least in semidarkness. Not in Tom Friedman’s case. The videos in this exhibition—the American artist’s first works in the medium and their inaugural showing in Italy—are conceived to be displayed in fully illuminated spaces. The projected images are mostly simple outlines of light in motion, white on white walls: an ovoid that slowly rotates on an axis (One Minute Egg, 2017); the silhouette of a man—the artist—walking (Guardian, 2017); a simulated blazing sun (Sun, 2017). Friedman contrived the unusual approach after he witnessed squares of sunshine refracted by a window onto a wall in his home. One of the most alluring works in the show, Shaky Window, 2017, reproduces precisely this phenomenon, to unsettling effect. Observing what appears to be slanted daylight, one’s first impulse is to look around in search of a window that isn’t there.

Friedman’s incursion into video is interesting for more than one reason. First of all, he proposes an evocatively “regressive” use of the projector, transformed into a mere source of white light. (Only a couple works, such as Candle, 2016, resort to color and chiaroscuro.) Secondly, he removes the projected image from the usual black box and places it in a white cube, rendering the latter integral to the work. Wall, 2017, for example, is the projection of a hand, palm open, which seems to emerge from the wall’s surface. Finally, with these white-on-white projections, evanescent as mirages—the show’s title is “Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces”—Friedman seems to have found an approach to video that is completely consistent with his poetics: a meticulous exploration of the fantasies and hallucinatory potential hidden in the interiors of everyday life.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.