New York

Mary Ellen Carroll

Cinema Village/Storefront for Art and Architecture

Billowing American flag

Bus deposits people

Birds squawk and chirp, jets fly overhead

The urban haiku above was pulled from my notes on Mary Ellen Carroll’s Federal and is a fairly complete summary of its action. Shot in real time on July 28, 2003, this two-part video (the halves were shot, and are screened, concurrently) is a twenty-four-hour record of the northern and southern facades of the federal building in Los Angeles, and was shown exactly two years later at Cinema Village in conjunction with an exhibition of twenty-four photographs of the northern facade at Storefront for Art and Architecture. The images of the building’s orderly grid of windows (one critic described it as an “immense file cabinet”) were in stark contrast with the open, asymmetrical doors on the gallery’s Vito Acconci and Steven Holl–designed exterior.

The main attraction, however, was the movie. During the

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