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“Andy Warhol: Screen Tests”

MoMA QNS - Museum of Modern Art

For a time in the 1960s, anyone interesting who visited Warhol’s Factory would be invited to sit for a screen test: Starting in 1964, he made more than 500, of which, so far, 277 have been preserved. The Factory camera (not necessarily operated by Warhol) would record the subject on a single unedited one-hundred-foot 16 mm silent cartridge. The tests were shot at sound speed (twenty-four frames per second), but Warhol wanted them projected at silent speed (sixteen frames per second), so they take longer to see than they did to make: They retard time. (The viewing duration of each is four and a half minutes.) The sitter was often instructed not to move. Most disobeyed. Each test performs an identical protest against career and futurity: Not a prelude to a later performance in a “real” film, the test is (in most cases) the event itself, a warm-up for nothing. The screen tests, in toto, are

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