PRINT September 2010


HOW DO YOU SHOW what’s not there anymore—or what’s not there yet? Answers run throughout the work of both Lucy Raven and Thom Andersen, who trace processes and places that are gone, hidden, or changing so rapidly that we can hardly keep pace. Raven’s photographic animation China Town, 2009, currently showing at MoMA PS1 in New York, features thousands of photographs arranged in a loping, stuttering sequence that tracks the production of copper wire from the metal’s mining in Nevada to its processing and use for electrification in the vast Three Gorges Dam in central China. Andersen’s landmark films Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) and Red Hollywood (1995), are precisely calibrated montages of cinematic clips that reveal, respectively, the movie industry’s grip on its city and its engagement in the suspicion, surveillance, and censure of global politics.
Far from the stock-in-trade didactics of documentary or metanarrative, Raven and Andersen each offer audiovisual experiences that toy with the forms of time and media themselves. Artforum invited the two artists to meet in Los Angeles and talk about their mutual commitments to unearthing the past and picturing what is to come.

Lucy Raven, China Town, 2009, still from a photographic animation, 51 minutes 30 seconds.

THOM ANDERSEN: How did you think about the processes of work you filmed in China Town [2009]? I like the idea of using stills in the movie, jumping from one still to the next. Paradoxically, it clarifies what’s going on. Is that what you had in mind?

LUCY RAVEN: I’d always had the idea to make China Town as an animation and to work from still photographs, which I’d never done before. I think the question of how you show work and how you show an industrial process clearly is really difficult, and one function of the stills was to slow down the moving parts enough to see them better.

TA: So how did the film expand to include China and the ocean?

LR: Slowly. I found out that the copper mine I was photographing, in Ruth, Nevada, used to smelt its ore down the road in the town of McGill, but in the 1980s, during one of the mine’s bust cycles, the McGill plant closed. Meanwhile, the mine

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW at the discounted rate of $45 a year—70% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the September 2010 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.