Continuing the post of my friend Matt Papa about Charles Atlas and “The Waning of Justice”, I want to add that the show is running until next Saturday at Lurhing Augustine Gallery. Also, Nam June Paik’s exhibition installation, the multi-monitor, sculptural installation M200/Video Wall, (1991) is showing at James Cohan Gallery (two streets further) until March 14th.
Nam June Paik (Korean-born artist died at age 73, in 2006) is considered a pioneer of cybernetics and a “father” of video art, and Charles Atlas (b. St. Louis, MO in 1949) a pioneering experimental filmmaker and video artist. Both artists are known for their close collaboration with art performers. Paik developed collaborative relationships with a circle of iconic American artists, such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Yoko Ono, and Bill Viola, among others. When Atlas moved to New York in the early 1970s, he worked as an intern-turned-videographer for the dance legend Merce Cunningham, and John Cage was a frequent visitor to his studio. Charles Atlas has also collaborated with other contemporary performers such as Marina Abramovic and Antony and the Johnsons, among others.
In the work of both artists, there is a holistic synchronicity between their pieces and within each piece itself. There is a sense of symphony in the Nan June Paik piece, touchingly inspired by Mozart. As the sound of an opera orchestra are heard. The monitors play as a pentagram where the notes are human bodies, tv broadcast images and silence. The images alternate and combine in a choreographic rhythm. They create a new version of Mozart symphony with small frenetic intervals that carry the spectator on his own lyrical path, showing the viewer a humanist expression of technology.
I agree with Matt’s comments about how striking Lady Bunny is. Some of the lyrics of “Here She is…” that Lady Bunny sang, “What the fuck is it wrong with me? I don’t know who it is that I see,” were accompanied by the repeated chorus “You are the one.” After that, Lady Bunny delivers a subversive comedic monologue about political and social discrimination problems in which she is muted on several occasions, and you can hear the sound from the other room. Both rooms seemed to blend in one message, telling me to wake up, to question my thoughts and what I see, in a humorous, but also in a pedagogic and effective manner.