Framed

Taking two seminal late-1960s films by Bruce Nauman and Richard Serra as points of departure, this exhibition brings together recent video works that document artists’ bodily confrontation with the frame of the camera and boundaries delimited within. Through a variety of movements, procedures, and performances, the artists in Framed investigate the space between self and environment, self and other, and the divide between what is recorded by a camera and the indefinite expanse of unmediated life.

The artists featured in Framed engage in new ways with some of the primary themes of early video art from the late 1960s and 1970s, such as performance, body art, and dance. Nauman’s Dance or Exercise on the Perimeter of a Square (Square Dance) (1967–68) and Serra’s Frame (1969) chart the emergence of a medium and exemplify practices that have proven highly influential for artists working today.

While the proliferation of 16 mm Bolex film cameras triggered the expansion of experimental film in the 1950s and ’60s, Sony’s “Portapak” video recorder, introduced in 1967, provided artists with the ability to create moving pictures with greater ease than ever before. Without elaborate crews or highly trained specialists, artists could operate this lightweight, portable video camera alone in the studio and out in the world. Artists who worked in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, music, performance, and dance, were attracted to video for its ability to document events, as well as its potential for representing duration, process, and endurance.

The recent video works included in Framed employ the medium of video not only as a means to record live action, but also to call attention to how the camera frame delineates space in specific ways. Each video depicts the artist as he or she marks, follows, or grapples with a boundary and thereby maps the space of a now-expanded studio, which encompasses the familiar territory of a four-walled artist’s studio, but also stretches into the street, city, and wider surroundings. The frame emerges not as a limiting factor of the medium, but instead as an inherent quality that can be mined in innovative ways.