Since 2005, as part of the Hirshhorn
's commitment to the creative possibilities of new media, the Black Box has presented the work of a range of emerging and established international artists, such as Francis Alÿs, Mircea Cantor, Ori Gersht, Jesper Just, Rivane Neuenschwander and Guido van der Werve. From single camera shots to computer-generated animation, the Black Box explores the wide variety of film, video and innovative media that have become so pervasive in contemporary art.
Organized by associate curator Kelly Gordon, the artists featured in the Black Box in 2009-2010 are Phoebe Greenberg (Nov. 30-April 11, 2010) and Chris Chong Chan Fui (Apr. 19, 2010-Aug. 1, 2010).
Black Box: Phoebe Greenberg on view through April 11
Part nightmare, part morality tale, Phoebe Greenberg's (b. Ottawa, 1964) film "Next Floor" (2008) provides a metaphor for society's excessive consumption. The artist conceived and produced this work, which was awarded Best Short Film, International Critic's Week, at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival,with director Denis Villeneuve and a feature film-scale crew.
By turns intense, hilarious, shocking and gruesome, "Next Floor" brings to mind the lavish, visceral cinematic tableaux associated with director Peter Greenaway's films, as well as the cautionary spirit of such children's stories as Peter Newell's classic novel "The Rocket Book" (1912), in which an actual hole penetrates each page to represent a rocket's trajectory through the floors of an apartment building.
Greenberg, whose work is inspired by Theater of the Absurd, is also influenced by her study of physical theater with Jacques Lecoq in Paris. She is best known as the head of Phi, a music and film production company, and as founder and director of Diving Horse Creations (DHC/ART), a Montreal-based theater and contemporary art space.
Black Box: Chris Chong Chan Fui on View from April 19, 2010-Aug. 1, 2010
In Chris Chong Chan Fui's (b. 1982, Borneo, Malaysia) short film "BLOCK B" (2008), a motionless camera watches night and day as dramas unfold on the various floors of a massive apartment complex. Chong records this high-rise home to Indian expatriates working in Malaysia without using special effects or manipulated lighting, as if it is a documentary. Voice-overs, which seem to correlate with the diverse scenarios playing out on the building's many terraces, act as the aural equivalent of a zoom shot, focusing viewers' attention on realistic details. Ultimately, however, it remains unclear whether the narration is an authentic aspect of the fabric of daily life or derived solely from the artist's imagination, raising questions about surveillance, voyeurism and authenticity.
Chong, who is the first Malaysian artist to exhibit at the Hirshhorn, also creates feature films. His most recent project, "HEAVENHELL" (2009), an audio-visual installation based on Akira Kurosawa's film "High and Low" (1963), premiered at the International Festival of Arts and Media in Yokohama, Japan.