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The video art and photography of Neil Goldberg on view at the Museum of the City of New York
Still from the video Wind Tunnel, 2012. Video by Neil Goldberg. Courtesy of the artist.

NEW YORK, NY.- Contemporary video art and photography by noted artist Neil Goldberg (b. 1963) exploring the unexpected resonance of everyday moments in New York City is on view at the Museum of the City of New York through May 28, 2012. Stories the City Tells Itself: The Video Art and Photography of Neil Goldberg presents eight video artworks and three photographic projects that direct the viewer’s attention to moments that are usually experienced only fleetingly.

Susan Henshaw Jones, the Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum commented: “Neil Goldberg’s work captures the seemingly trivial moments all New Yorkers experience – from the swirl of your hair in the artificial wind of the subway platform, to the terrible disappointment of just missing a train – and transforms them into universal expressions of what it means to live in this exciting, and sometimes challenging, city.”

Stories the City Tells Itself: The Video Art and Photography of Neil Goldberg is the first-ever presentation of contemporary video art at the Museum of the City of New York . The exhibition marks a renewed commitment to the presentation of contemporary art that communicates the Museum’s mission to explore all aspects of the past, present and future of New York City .

Neil Goldberg’s artwork interweaves the physical city and its people. Much of his work is filmed on the streets of the city; his subjects are often simply passers-by. Artworks such as Wind Tunnel (2012) and Missing the Train (2002-2006) are as much about the New Yorkers in front of his camera as they are about the unique character of New York City ’s subway system. Goldberg’s keen observation of the idiosyncrasies of both individual New Yorkers and the city itself gives expression to the poetry of everyday life in this singular city.

Goldberg is similarly interested in the intersection of personal and collective experience, often highlighting the different ways individual New Yorkers perform the same tasks, or encounter the same situations. In work such as Surfacing (2010-2011) and Salad Bar (2006) his focus is the way complex emotions are expressed on the faces of many different people who find themselves in the same situation.

Works like Hallelujah Anyway No. 2 (1995-1996) capture the same movement, in this case shopkeepers opening their business’s security gates, performed over-and-over again, yet never in quite the same way. In these works, common gestures and movements, performed multiple times by many individuals, begin to resemble a choreographed dance.

The exhibition includes the following video artworks:

• Wind Tunnel (2012) explores the unique climate of the subway platform by capturing the blast of wind through the hair of passengers waiting for the L at the Bedford Avenue station.

• Surfacing (2010-2011) stitches together images of subway riders emerging, momentarily disoriented and perplexed, from the subway steps onto the street, finding their bearings, and confidently walking out of the frame.

• Salad Bar (2006) examines, in close-up, the expressions of salad bar patrons in a typical New York City deli contemplating what to eat.

• Ten Minutes with X02180-A (2006) focuses on a single lilac bush in full bloom at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, number X02180-A, observing the way passers-by interact with it.

• 19 Rainstorms (1998-2003) was created by hanging Goldberg’s video camera, carefully wrapped in plastic, from tree branches, traffic signals, and light poles during 19 different rainstorms and allowing the camera to swing around, and the rainstorms to film themselves.

• Describing the Cyclone (1998) studies the dance-like gestures of people describing their experience of Coney Island ’s Cyclone roller-coaster. By making the video silent, the artist shifts the viewers’ focus from language to movement.

• Hallelujah Anyway Nos. 2 and 4 (1995-1996) brings together two artworks, the first documenting East Village shopkeepers opening their security gates in the morning (No. 2), and the second observing elderly passengers reaching up and climbing aboard the M15 bus (No. 4). The similar gestures of raising one’s arm to lift a gate in the morning, or to pull oneself onto a bus, are at once sad and uplifting.

The exhibition presents the following photographic projects:

• Subway Trapezoids (2012) celebrates the trapezoidal piece of sky framed at the top of the subway steps.

• Missing the Train (2002-2006) captures a common disappointment in images that evoke oil paintings.

• Truck Driver Elbows (2005) explores personal idiosyncrasies in a series of photographs taken while Goldberg was stopped at red lights on his bicycle.

Of Stories the City Tells Itself, The New York Times said “to see it is a bit like rummaging around in the parts of your memory that habit elides day by day.”

Neil Goldberg was born in Queens in 1963. His artwork has been presented in Museums, galleries, and film festivals throughout the United States and Europe . His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Harvard University Video Collection, The Jewish Museum, and the Long Beach Museum, and he has been the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, the CEC International Partnership Travel Fellowship, the MacDowell Colon Residency, the New York State Foundation on the Arts Fellowship as well as project funding from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Experimental Television Center.

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