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“Establishing Shot”

Artists Space Exhibitions

In filmic terms, “establishing shot” refers to the opening sequence of a scene, the images that spatially orient the audience and anchor subsequent events. Often a wide shot, or literally a long shot, it sets the location, characters, and mood of what follows, thus becoming a crucial—if often stymied (intentionally or otherwise)—point of narrative reference. At once an incipient lexicon of possibilities and a limit set within which such possibilities might arise, the singular, presumably intelligible establishing shot is really only legible within the resultant narrative sequence. Thus it often fails to establish much at all.

“Establishing Shot,” Christian Rattemeyer’s first curatorial gambit at Artists Space, mined this definition to augur the gallery’s forthcoming season through the work of ten artists who underscore the potential incompatibility between a work’s formal structure and its

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