Exhibition Location: Galleries for Drawings, Prints, and Photographs
Street, a new video by artist James Nares, will have its New York premiere as the centerpiece of an exhibition by the same name at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 5 through May 27, 2013. A recent acquisition of the Museum, the mesmerizing 61-minute high-definition video—which was shot on the streets of Manhattan over the course of a week in September 2011—will be shown continuously on a large screen in the central gallery of the Museum’s Drawings, Prints, and Photographs Galleries. The exhibition Street will also include 77 works of art—selected by the artist from the Met’s encyclopedic collections—that situate his video in relation to earlier works that capture the spirit of the street.
Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, said: “James Nares’ Street is a microcosm of contemporary New York that makes accessible the countless individual moments, gestures, and interactions that are normally too fleeting to take in all at once. Because its underlying subject is people, Street is also fascinating to view in a historical context. The relevant works of art that Nares selected from across the Met’s vast holdings range from a striding figure made in Sumer around 3000 B.C. to Walker Evans’ jars of pull tabs and bottle caps pocketed off the sidewalk. These works are eclectic and often surprising, and provide a true lesson in close looking across geographic and temporal boundaries.”
James Nares commented, “My video, New York, and the Met are all tied together for me. I moved here in 1974 and since then I have come to this museum regularly, like most artists I know, to refuel creatively and to be surprised, challenged, and inspired. Street is a piece that I’ve wanted to make since coming here—a love letter to my adopted home. So to be able to ‘raid the icebox,’ as Warhol once put it, and gather around my work all these old friends and new acquaintances, is one of the happiest occasions of my career.”
To make Street, Nares shot 16 hours of footage with a high-speed camera that is normally used from a stationary position to capture fleeting subjects such as hummingbirds and speeding bullets at a rate of between 500 and 1000 frames per second. Nares reversed this process by positioning the camera to film out the back and sides of a moving SUV. He recorded his footage in six-second snippets, the maximum length of time that the camera can record at such a high resolution. He then greatly slowed his source material, and edited down the results to 61 minutes of steady, continuous motion—which, if shown in real time, would last only three minutes. Nares’ friend, guitarist and Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore, composed and performed the video’s musical score on a 12-string acoustic guitar.
The street and street life have served as inspiration for painters and poets, filmmakers, and photographers since the birth of modernity. Nares’ inspiration for the film came from viewing actualité films by the turn-of-the-century pioneers of cinema Auguste and Louis Lumière and Thomas Edison—who themselves used the moving image technology that they invented to magically capture the street life of their own time. In the early stages of the development of Street, the artist considered subtitling the piece “A film to be viewed 100 years from now”; this desire to record the present, as if from a great distance in the future, resonates with earlier chroniclers of the street, such as Walker Evans. Nares’ inventive use of the most modern technology available at the time of production resulted in a distinctive visual look that harkens back to the simulated three-dimensional effects of 19th-century stereographs, while also being utterly up-to-date in its evocation of increasingly isolated, virtual, and image-suffused existence in the 21st century.
About the artist
James Nares (born London, 1953) lives and works in New York. His oeuvre encompasses painting, sculpture, drawing, film, and video. In his paintings, he seeks to capture the very moments in which he is creating them; individual paintings are most frequently made in single brush strokes that record a gestural passage of time and motion across the canvas. Nares’ films and videos reference many of the same preoccupations with movement, rhythm, and repetition, while also ranging further afield in their scope.
Street is organized by Doug Eklund, Associate Curator in the Department of Photographs, and Ian Alteveer, Associate Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exhibition design is by Brian Cha, Exhibition Design Associate; graphic design is by Norie Morimoto, Graphic Designer; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, Lighting Design Managers, all of the Museum’s Design Department.
An online feature about the exhibition, including a two-minute excerpt from the video Street, is on the Metropolitan Museum’s website at: http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2013/street.
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An exhibition of work by James Nares, Road Paint, will be on view at the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York City from May 8 through June 15, 2013.
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March 1, 2013
Image caption: James Nares, video still from Street, 2011. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Vital Projects Fund Inc. Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2012 © James Nares