Magazine article Artforum International

"Establishing Shot": Artists Space

Magazine article Artforum International

"Establishing Shot": Artists Space

Article excerpt

In filmic terms, "establishing shot" refers to the opening sequence of a scene, the images that spatially orient the audience and anchor subsequent events. Often a wide shot, or literally a long shot, it sets the location, characters, and mood of what follows, thus becoming a crucial--if often stymied (intentionally or otherwise)--point of narrative reference. At once an incipient lexicon of possibilities and a limit set within which such possibilities might arise, the singular, presumably intelligible establishing shot is really only legible within the resultant narrative sequence. Thus it often fails to establish much at all.

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"Establishing Shot," Christian Rattemeyer's first curatorial gambit at Artists Space, mined this definition to augur the gallery's forthcoming season through the work of ten artists who underscore the potential incompatibility between a work's formal structure and its thematic points of reference. But what was on offer was really more a tracking shot than an establishing shot, including artists who are more often midcareer than emerging. Familiar names Liam Gillick, Douglas Gordon, Carsten Holler, Pierre Huyghe, Philippe Parreno, and Rirkrit Tiravanija collaborated on their own cinematic excursion via the deliciously ambiguous dialogue and character morphing of Vicinato, 1995 (which Holler, Parreno, and Tiravanija produced), and Vicinato 2, 1999 (which brought together all six artists), while Blake Rayne rethought and recoded a history of modernist painting, reaffirming its viability in works like the saturated and facture-laden, if oddly stark, No More Winter, We Are Tired of Your Free Coffee, 2003, and Dee Williams investigated the limits of order and rationality in constructions of history in a series of photo-and-text works documenting streets in Berlin named after natural scientists. …

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