The Buffalo News

Date: Friday, March 08, 2002

Section: GUSTO
Edition: FINAL
Page: G22

By: By BRUCE ADAMS – News Contributing Reviewer

Illustration: A frame from Israeli artist Tirtza Even’s video work at the Carnegie Art Center.


WHAT: “Side the Other Side,” video and interactive art by four artists

WHEN: Through March 23WHERE: Carnegie Art Center, 240 Goundry St., North Tonawanda


INFO: 694-4400
Enter the blue-lit vestibule of the Carnegie Art Center to view the current exhibition of internationally acclaimed video and interactive art, and you will be confronted by apparent emptiness. Only the title “Side the Other Side” divides the far wall into neat halves.

Take a few steps into the darkened rotunda, and around the corner a huge video projection emerges. Across the room a computer monitor with projected operating directions for an interactive companion piece also comes into view. This mildly disquieting arrangement by curator Ghen Zando-Dennis sets the tone for a very compelling exhibition dealing with intrusion and occupation of space.

“Existing in Ruins,” a 35-minute digital video that is included in this year’s Whitney Biennial, was shot in Palestinian refugee camps by Israeli artist Tirtza Even in collaboration with fellow Israeli Bosmat Alon. It opens with narrative text concerning an Israeli and Palestinian terrorist who meet on vacation and overcome mutual distrust to bond. This meeting frames the viewer’s perception of the patchy documentary footage, ambient sound and disjointed accounts of refugee life that follow.

Children cavort among ruins, families banter, and men sit idly in dusty corners and stare pointlessly – all waiting indefinitely within the tightly walled environs of the enclave. The fixed camera gaze seems at once invasive and vulnerable, as walls and other obstacles project into the frame obscuring visual egress. In Even’s digital companion piece, “Occupied Territory,” the viewer clicks a mouse to travel through the same oppressive surroundings, now apparently uninhabited but actually containing concealed scenes from the video. The themes of intrusion and oppression continue with “Untitled #3,” by New York City artist Shannon Kennedy, a seven-minute impressionistic montage of slow-motion segments shot in New York City subways, much of it filmed surreptitiously. The passive/aggressive voyeuristic viewpoint and groaning ambient sound create an ambiguously ominous tone reminiscent of horror and suspense film genres. Produced in 2000, this work takes on new significance post-Sept. 11.

In “I Thought I was Seeing Convicts,” Berlin-based Harun Farocki focuses on Corchran Prison in exploring the role of technology in social subjugation. Farocki employs multiple images, often from surveillance tapes and training films, joined by patently subjective text, to expose the abuse of power. The implications extend well beyond the concrete prison walls.

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