little-wolf,-wi

Gretchen Bender, Total Recall, 1987, eight-channel video on twenty-four monitors and two rear-projection screens, sound, 18 minutes 2 seconds. Installation view.

Gretchen Bender

The Poor Farm

Gretchen Bender, Total Recall, 1987, eight-channel video on twenty-four monitors and two rear-projection screens, sound, 18 minutes 2 seconds. Installation view.

Seeing video art as “ghettoized [by] the eighties art world,” Gretchen Bender (1951–2004) described herself not as a video artist, but as a visual artist working with television as her material. It is in part because of this wary definition of her practice—one rooted in a commitment to art’s “public vision”—that Bender’s work remains so important today. Thanks to curator Philip Vanderhyden, a survey of the artist’s commercial output and two of her central installations from the 1980s can be experienced firsthand in “Tracking the Thrill,” an exhibition of Bender’s videos on view this year at Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam’s experimental art space in rural Wisconsin.

The highlight of this exhibition, and the work that best exemplifies Bender’s famed notion of “electronic theater,” is Total Recall, 1987—a striking eight-channel installation in a black-box setting of

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the November 2012 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.