Peter Campus: Video Works 1971-76
Cristin Tierney Gallery/ Peter Campus: Video Works 1971-76
December 3-6, 2015
Art Basel Miami Beach – Booth S-10
Cristin Tierney Gallery is pleased to present a selection of Peter Campus’ single-channel artworks in Booth S-10 at the 2015 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach. Between 1971 and 1976 Campus created nine videos, including the now iconic 1973 Three Transitions. Most of these works were produced at WGBH-TV through their “New Television Workshop” fellowship program, and they exemplify avant-garde artistic practices of the era.
Campus’ interest in cognitive psychology, identity construction, and the existential questions of human existence is well reflected in these early videos. Most of the works are formal in their approach, focused on issues such as perspective, color, and the figure/ground relationship. Each of the works explores the connection between the subject and the camera, and thus the nature of representation. Heavily emphasized is the artifice inherent in moving images, and the ability of the artist to transform recorded realities: a hand disappears slowly, sinking into a black gelatin-like substance; an image of a face on what appears to be a sheet of paper is set aflame and burns until it disappears; a set of small rectangular mirrors is dropped one by one, reflecting sections of the performer’s face, resulting in an increasingly fragmentary image.
The significance of these early works is twofold. First, Campus’ exploration of form pushed the boundaries of this new medium, and his work has influenced generations of artists ever since. Second, the integration of form and content in these works is remarkable. In these videos, Campus uses literal explorations of the actual world to illuminate our struggles with an imagined one. As time unfolds and each piece progresses, it gradually becomes apparent that the physical spaces recorded by the video camera are metaphors for our psychic ones.