Paul Pfeiffer

Paul Pfeiffer

Exhibition: Mar 13 – May 11, 2003

Paul Pfeiffer’s video works utilize digital manipulations to capture and decontextualize mass media spectacles, implicating the viewer in all of us. Pfeiffer’s editing emphasizes particular movements to imbue the figures’ actions with layered meanings—ebullience turns to rage and celebration into attack. Referencing French philosopher, Guy Debord’s 1967 treatise The Society of the Spectacle, Pfeiffer’s work compels the viewer to question whether media is “other” to community or if, as individuals, we are complicit in its success.

Pfeiffer continues his investigation of the spectacle of the media with three new video works. Pfeiffer alters and represents images from a pop music video, a beauty pageant, and a professional basketball game. Through the generous support of the San Antonio Spurs, Pfeiffer was granted access to the SBC Center where he filmed not only the players but the support staff. The resulting video isolates an armed security guard thus inverting one’s gaze from the event itself to the peripheral action.


Paul Pfeiffer

New York, New York, USA

Paul Pfeiffer is known primarily for his video works that utilize digital manipulations to capture mass media spectacles. The element of time is offered up for examination as the soundless continuous loops repeatedly emphasize particular movements. Moments in time are de-contextualized and imbue the figures’ actions with multiple meanings, challenging viewers to question what they see.
Pfeiffer implicates the viewer in all of us. He reminds us that in our obsession with and our knowledge of technology we collude in the media takeover we condemn. Through his video installations offer a slice of familiar part of contemporary culture and life, we know the players, we know the hooks, we see ourselves. In The Long Count, a three-part video installation based on footage of Mohammed Ali and in Race Riot, a video sculpture incorporating an excerpt following the Chicago Bulls victory during the 1996 NBA Championship, Pfeiffer has tapped into the undercurrents of pop culture that are shaped and propounded by the digital images that are a part of the visual vocabulary of contemporary American life.
“Like a guilty wish or an unconscious desire, technology is already deep inside you, ” Pfeiffer states. French philosopher, Guy Debord elucidates Pfeiffer’s work, and his words, in the 1967 treatise “The Society of the Spectacle,” when the author alludes to the function of the spectacle as “the total justification for the conditions and aims of the existing system.” Pfeiffer’s work compels the viewer to question his role: Is media “other” to community or are we essential to its success?
Paul Pfeiffer was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1966. He received his BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from Hunter College, New York City. The recipient of an MIT List Visual Arts Center Residency in 2001-2002, he received The Bucksbaum Award, The Whitney Museum, New York in 2000. Pfeiffer’s solo exhibitions include Sex Machine, The Project, Los Angeles, CA (2001) and Site Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Il. Recent group exhibitions include Out of Place, Museum of Contemporary At, Chicago; Graz 2003, Graz, Austria, 100 Artists See God, Independent Curators International; and The Moderns, Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy. The artist lives and works in New York City.

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Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Turin, Italy

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is an art critic and curator who is interested in the relationship between art, ethics and society and the shifting meanings and relationships between nature/culture, center/periphery and local/international. Christov-Bakargiev has recently been appointed the chief curator of the Castello di Rivoli, the contemporary art museum in Turin, Italy.  She was most recently a senior curator at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center.  At P.S. 1, she curated numerous group exhibitions including Some New Minds and Around 1984: A Look at Art in the Eighties, as well as one-person shows including Janet Cardiff, Sol Lewitt, and Georges Adeagbo. Prior to her appointment at P.S.1, she was the co-curator (with Hans Ulrich-Obrist and Laurence Bosse) of the international exhibition La Ville, le Jardin, La Memoire 1998-2000 at the Villa Medici, Rome. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is a regular contributor to numerous art publications and catalogues and is the editor of Arte Povera (Phaidon, 1998), a major volume that considerably deepens the discussion around the Arte Povera movement— the late 1960s’ Italian movement toward loosely-formed sculptures or environments made of rustic natural materials.

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