“Talking Pictures”

Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen - K20

When, in his 1967 article “Art and Objecthood,” Michael Fried attacked the Minimalists for their theatricality, he could not have known that his critique would affect the dialogue between art and theater for decades to come. Even videos, performances, and installations became antitheatrical. But no more: Today’s films and videos feature drama, role play, and pretense—a point underlined by K21 curator Doris Krystof in her wonderfully installed exhibition “Talking Pictures.”

Theater is, above all, a form of social interaction, and as such, it has not only an aesthetic but an ethical component; both play a role in the works on view in Düsseldorf. The aesthetic aspect is perhaps most prevalent in Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest, Part 1, 2003, by Yang Fudong. This five-part cycle looks back stylistically to the Shanghai film industry of the ’30s, and its exquisite images recall the

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