PRINT Summer 2014

Ed Halter

Amy Sillman, Triscuits, 2011–12, digital video, black-and-white, silent, 12 minutes 30 seconds.

AMY SILLMAN'S animated videos are so deftly constructed, complex, and funny that it’s surprising to find out she has been making them for only a few years. But elements of animation had always been lying in wait in her art: in the serial cartoon shapes found in many of her works, in the ziney comic books she has published, and even in the very process of painting as such—which, after all, involves marking a screenlike surface with images that morph, layer, and change as they find final form. Sillman has made this last point of convergence explicit by exhibiting paintings with silent movies looping on iPads mounted beside them. Thirteen Possible Futures: Cartoon for a Painting, 2012, appeared first in “Blues for Smoke” (2012–13) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where it was shown with Duel, 2011, while PS, 2013, and an early painting, Shade, 1997–98, were paired for her retrospective last year at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Thirteen Possible Futures and PS were created with free apps on an iPad, and each riffs off its sibling paintings through phantasmagorias of soft-edged finger streaks, color clouds, and spidery stylus lines. In motion, Sillman’s work evokes the rubbery animaloids that bop through Fleischer Studios cartoons, and the creepy minimalism of 1960s kiddie TV like Clutch Cargo. The Freudian theater underlying such fare plays out most overtly in her longest movie to date, the twelve-minute Triscuits, 2011–12. Shot on an iPhone but composed of ink drawings, Triscuits uses both stop-motion animation and live manipulation, creating a low-tech puppet show about grown-up problems like social awkwardness, maternal memories, and lumpy bodies.

Ed Halter is a founder and director of Light Industry, New York, and teaches at Bard College.