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Steve McQueen, End Credits, 2012/2016, sequence of digital scans, black-and-white, sound, 12 hours 54 minutes; sound element: 19 hours 23 minutes. Installation view. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

Steve McQueen

Whitney Museum of American Art

Steve McQueen, End Credits, 2012/2016, sequence of digital scans, black-and-white, sound, 12 hours 54 minutes; sound element: 19 hours 23 minutes. Installation view. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

FIRST EXHIBITED as a six-hour, single-channel projection in 2012, Steve McQueen’s End Credits was recently installed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (with an expanded running time of nearly thirteen hours) on two large screens facing each other across a space nearly three-quarters the length of a football field.

The work’s title suggests the stately, somewhat enigmatic list of names and job titles projected at the end of a movie while audiences customarily exit the theater, but here the continuously scrolling text’s subject is the scholar, athlete, actor, singer, political activist, and international icon Paul Robeson—or rather, Robeson as refracted through his voluminous FBI file, which was opened in 1941 and, having a life of its own, remained active even after his death in 1976.

To make this piece, McQueen scanned Robeson’s file, declassified in 1980 in

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