Manhattan’s hippest museum is once again the Guggenheim, where the new exhibition, "Moving Pictures," has turned Frank Lloyd Wright’s glorious spiral into 21st-century techno-spectacle. Organized by Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector, the exhibition features approximately 150 photographs and video works by 55 contemporary artists. The show focuses on art from the last 12 years, but also includes a selection of performance and conceptual-art documentation pieces from the 1970s.
"Moving Pictures" remains on view till. Jan. 12, 2003. Spector and New York critic Phyllis Tuchman recently discussed the exhibition.
PT: Do you posit a linear history of photography in "Moving Pictures?"
NS: I wouldn’t call it a linear history. Rather, the show turns on a 1970s/1990s axis, revealing a dialogue between the two decades and arguing that the performative, directorial and documentary sensibilities of much photo-based work today have their roots in the conceptually driven art of the 1970s. Please keep in mind that this is an exhibition drawn almost exclusively from the museum’s collection. Had we set out to do a survey of photography and the moving image over the past 30 years, it would have looked very different. There are many histories of photography.
While we have many critical gaps in the collection, which we hope to rectify, the installation is designed to showcase what we own in depth. Most artists are represented by a number of works or by a single, large-scale, important piece. Each bay of the museum’s spiraling ramp is, for the most part, devoted to a single artist. There are many artists in the collection such as Cathy Opie, Jeff Burton or Katy Grannan who are not represented in the show because we don’t own their work in sufficient depth. The opposite is also true. There are artists in the collection, such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Roni Horn, who are represented in great depth, but we can only show a fraction of their work in this exhibition.
In the area of video and film, we were limited by the parameters of the museum’s architecture. The show includes a number of single-channel projected videos, which are on view in the video theaters on the top ramp, but we couldn’t accommodate other, more complex video installations by artists like Douglas Gordon, Jane and Louise Wilson and Willie Doherty.
PT: Do you see photography as the dominant art form of the day?
NS: I don’t think of it as dominant as much as prevalent. It’s a vehicle for many artists working from a conceptual base.
PT: How do you feel about the ubiquity of photography vis a vis television and the movies?
NS: Photography, video and film inform virtually everything we do. If an artist is going to make work that comments on or participates in our image-saturated world, this is the vocabulary at hand. Douglas Gordon has always said that he is part of the VCR generation.
PT: Was there a conscious effort to represent photographers from many countries?
NS: We collect internationally; it’s a mandate of the museum. However, I hope that going forward, we can be even broader in our acquisitions. You can’t think of contemporary art as a local phenomenon.