The halls, the walls, then the art

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I’ve been mulling over the FWM “Experiments with Truth” and it seems to me that the show is an experiment in architecture. In addition, while ostensibly a video exhibit, the video component seems like a lesser concern than the big film program coming in in February in which many of these documentary video/filmmakers will be present to discuss their works after they’re screened at places like International House and University of the Arts Connelly Auditorium or Scribe Video Center.

This architecture experiment is not a bad thing — in fact it’s great. But in a way it’s the most exciting part of the exhibition at the Fab. For my money architecture trumped the videos. (top two images are the FWM 6th floor hallway at the press preview with installers putting on finishing touches.)

The Fab has long worked with architects and designers to alter their space, sometimes in the service of the art, other times just to alter the space, like the Jorge Pardo makeover of the entryway and video lounge. (And the Steven Izenour flower cutouts that line the stairway between 5th and 6th floors.) So for the institution to enlist the hot team of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Lyn Rice of Open Office to make the space video friendly is a natural. And they done good. The use of the padded walls inside the screening chambers and in the hallways is effective noise block; the scrims at the end of hallways allow icy almost cyber-white light and are fitting, 21st-century illumination.

The whole ambiance was prison — a great psychic accompaniment to the videos. Well, I loved it. I loved it more than I loved the videos which got repetitive and seemed to offer less rather than more (exceptions: works by Francesco Vezzoli and Isaac Julien which were gorgeous and mesmerizing).

The videos themselves are, as Libby said in her post, and I said in my PW review, worth a watch. But most of them can be digested in a minute or two. They wear their messages on their sleeves and are not narrative. There’s no punchline and no matter where you slip in, the ambiance, message, vibe is the same. (image left is scrim in 6th floor hallway, very effective in creating icy ambiance)

But really, the videos, like I said, are the appetizer. The main course comes in February (here’s the program schedule) with the film screenings. (image right is Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi’s “Frammenti Elettrici: New Caledonia” co-produced by the Fab and making use of the FWM’s groovy, double-sided scrim projection techniques. You’re seeing the work through a scrim with the artist’s names printed on it.)

I’ll end with a word about and a shot of Mark Nash, the guest curator, looking very, very cyber blue at the press preview. He’s a soft-spoken Brit, who as co-curator of Dokumenta 11 worked with many of these filmmakers before. At the press preview, he was friendly and full of information about the works and about the impeti for making them. I look forward to hearing more of what’s on his mind at the panel discussions.

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