Magazine article Artforum International

Beat Streuli. (Reviews: New York)

Magazine article Artforum International

Beat Streuli. (Reviews: New York)

Article excerpt

MURRAY GUY

In his photographs of people on the street, Beat Streuli has since the early '9os straddled the line between portraying anonymity and individuality. More recently, his videos of transient urban life have expanded his repertoire, and the viewer's patient consideration is rewarded as scenes gradually unfold with rows of people passing through the frame, imparting the sensation of long temporal flows. Streuli's latest projects explore international city streets in four two-channel videos, which were installed on a rotating basis in projections. In The Pallasades 05-01-01, 2001, shot in Birmingham, England, a dense crowd of people moves in slow motion, seen from an almost perfectly frontal perspective. Marching toward the camera in waves of fabric and flesh, the pedestrians give an initial impression of mass alienation and withdrawal. But there is a great deal of physical detail, from body types to skin tones to clothing brands, which provides the viewer with flashes of recognition. The sheer quantity of informat ion on display is generous, as social convention does not normally grant such unfettered visual access to complete strangers. Streuli gives license to stare.

Two pieces were shot in New York, including 8th Avenue/35th Street 06-02, 2002, in which the camera is positioned on the sidewalk so that passersby occasionally step directly in front of the lens and block the view for a moment. Urbanites seem sandwiched between the viewfinder and the delivery trucks passing behind them, packed into a stretch of Manhattan. By contrast, NYC 01/NYC 02, 2002, comes closer to individual portraiture: Streuli catches subway riders emerging from below ground at Astor Place into bright sunlight. Presented in a series of stills dissolving one into the other, each person seemed isolated within his or her own thoughts, perhaps prompting a stronger degree of personal identification from the audience. …

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