Global Film and Video Art Showcased in New Exhibition SIGHTS AND SOUNDS Series at The Jewish Museum
Beginning November 8, 2013, The Jewish Museum is launching a two-year-long exhibition series that explores new film and video works from around the world as selected by twenty-five international curators. Sights and Sounds: Global Film and Video will introduce New York audiences to the latest developments in film making within the art context worldwide, with a particular emphasis on work being made outside Western Europe and the United States. The Sights and Sounds exhibition series will culminate in a 2016 conference and a publication with curatorial statements, essays, film stills and descriptions, and discussions between curators and artists.
Each curator will be represented by four video works from their respective regions-including Argentina, Vietnam, Nigeria, New Zealand, and Egypt, among others. Their selections will be screened for approximately one month in the Museum's newly refurbished Barbara and E. Robert Goodkind Media Center, now transformed into a miniature cinema. The works in Sights and Sounds touch on themes significant to both Jewish culture and universal human experience, including spirituality, exile, language, conflict, family, humor, and history.
The first offering in this series, on extended view through January 30, 2014, features four works by artists who live and work in Cambodia, as selected by Phnom Penh and Berlin-based curator Erin Gleeson. These works address contemporary cultural, social, and political issues, and express an ongoing tension between the traditional and the new in Cambodian society. Gleeson notes that video art was a popular form of expression in Cambodia in the 1950s and 60s, but the decimation of the artist population during the Khmer Rouge led to stagnation in artistic innovation. These films are representative of the recent resurgence of video art in Cambodian artistic practice, which is still in its nascent stages.
In the video Negligence Leads to Loss; Attention Preserves from 2009, artist Than Sok burns a protective shrine constructed with incense sticks, drawing attention to the increasingly perfunctory nature of ritual offerings in Cambodia today. Similarly contrasting present-day and traditional practices, a 2012 film by Studio Revolt + Khmer Arts explores displacement and the journey to self-discovery by juxtaposing contemporary and ancient storytelling techniques through the medium of dance. A politically oriented 2011 work by Khvay Samnang shows the artist standing in a lake and pouring sand over his head repeatedly, a reaction to the environmental and humanitarian issues resulting from the privatization of Phnom Penh's lakes by the Cambodian government. The 2011 film Mon Boulet by Svay Sareth documents a five-day performance in which the artist dragged a cumbersome reflective metal sphere from the ancient capital of Angkor to the current capital Phnom Penh, reflecting Cambodia's own troubled history and the plight of refugees worldwide.