Magazine article Artforum International

Warren Neidich: Lace

Magazine article Artforum International

Warren Neidich: Lace

Article excerpt

Warren Neidich

LACE

It is a middling insult to be denied a plot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After all, inductees (or, more accurately, their agents, production companies, and fan clubs) must pay the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce $30,000 to have their names inlaid on one of the pink terrazzo stars that line Hollywood Boulevard. While Godzilla, the Rugrats, and Lassie all have stars, a number of well-regarded actors have declined theirs. As many industry magazines have noted, the Walk of Fame is not really a cultural monument, but rather a gnarly tentacle of the Hollywood hype machine.

One person who takes the honorific seriously is Warren Neidich, whose exhibition "The Palinopsic Field" attempted to redress wrongs carried out during two dark and intertwined moments in the history of the film industry and that of the nation at large--the so-called Red Scare and Lavender Scare of the 1950s--in part by giving stars (of sorts) to former industry scapegoats. Here Neidich made use of the temporary "afterimage" one sees following exposure to extreme visual stimuli such as bright color or light. (Neidich's pointed citation of "palinopsia," the phenomenon's recursive pathological strain, was perhaps intended as a wry criticism of the era's McCarthyist hysteria.) The artist's gambit was that viewers would visually transpose the retinal afterimage of illuminated neon text onto nearby white stars. To this end, the exhibition featured The Afterimage Paintings, 2016, a work comprising four square silk screens showing white stars on terrazzo backgrounds interspersed with three neon signs spelling out the names of Hollywood screenwriters in red capital letters: alvah bessie, dalton trumbo, and ring lardner JR. Each of these men was subpoenaed in 1947 to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where they were asked to confess their affiliations with the Communist Party and to name other sympathizers. Each declined, citing the First Amendment. Their refusals were later echoed by seven others, who collectively became known as the Hollywood Ten. The Ten were subsequently held in contempt of Congress for their noncompliance; they were fined, jailed, and blacklisted by the major motion-picture studios. Dalton Trumbo, perhaps the best known of the group, went on to ghostwrite the films Exodus and Spartacus (both 1960), as well as Roman Holiday (1953), for which he was retroactively credited in 2011. …

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