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THE INTERNATIONAL ARTIST-IN-RESISENCE PROGRAM
NEW WORKS 96.1
Leni Hoffmann - NÜRNBERG, GERMANY
May Sun - VENICE, CALIFORNIA
Elizabeth McGrath SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
The International Artist-in-Residence Program sponsored by ArtPace, A Foundation
for Contemporary Art | San Antonio presents the fifth in a series of New Works projects
realized by artists living and working at [ArtPace]. Leni Hoffmann, May Sun, and
Elizabeth McGrath were selected to participate in the program by a renowned panel of
arts professionals brought together by The Foundation in October of 1994. Members of
the panel were: Mary Beebe, Director of the Stuart Collection, The University of
California, San Diego; Benito Huerta, Artist, Houston, Texas; Anthony Jones, Rector and
Vice Provost, Royal College of Art, London; Richard Koshalek, Director, Museum of
Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Lowery Sims, Curator 20th Century Art, New York;
and Dianne Vanderlip, Curator of 20th Century Art, Denver.
May Sun was born in Shanghai, China, and has lived in California for over sixteen years.
By way of introduction to her installation at [ArtPace], she says, "I live in Los Angeles. I
spend 85% of my time in cars." Her work offers a steady stream of dualities. It has both
California and San Antonio components; a large video screen with stock footage of an
aerial view of Los Angeles traffice at night in a black room and three small monitors in a
white room showing videotape filmed by the artist since she began her residency in San
Antonio in January. In the black and white rooms which open to each other, the viewer
finds somber and comedic questions, specific and universal references, public and private
"How Am I Driving?" is consistent with the ambitious public art commissions for
which the artist is noted. While she has collaborated with video artists in the past, Sun
shot and edited her own videotape in San Antonio. To prepare for the "white room,"
[ArtPace] staff members drove her along the highways and byways of the city in search
of cars and vans with the words "How am I driving? Call 1-800 --- ----." She visually
recorded their search, then taped the conversations as her collaborators called the
numbers on those vehicles and reported in detail the driver's every twist and turn. "I've
always wanted to do this," says the artist. While the idea might first have occurred as a
prank, she quickly moved beyond the obvious. She says:
"How am I driving?" becomes a metaphor for "How am I living?" The idea that life
equals movement and the passing of time. That nothing is ever perfectly still, that
stillness is an illusion. The river of lights produced by moving automobile headlights on
crowded freeways in a world where speed is increasingly an achievable goal changes into
a contemporary metaphor for the journey of life.
In the darker half of the installation, the moody film of Los Angeles makes the
freeways appear as pulsing red-hot lava flows across a dark screen. Visitors hear May
Sun asks questions:
Am I speeding full ahead?
Am I stalled in the fast lane?
Did I miss a stop sign?
Am I going places?
Is life the ultimate time-based art?
The questions commence with a light touch, but by the end, their intent has clearly
transcended an interest in traffic flow:
Do I have many regrets?
Am I too sensitive?
Do you like to drive people crazy?
"How Am I Driving?" is, according to May Sun, "a prankster-flavored media
performance installation with a dark, mysterious underbelly."
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