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Morris Gallery Becomes Home to Contemporary Video Art
Alfredo Jaar, Muxima, 2005, Digital video, Running time: 36 minutes. © Alfredo Jaar. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) will begin the 2009 season by reconfiguring the Morris Gallery into a black box for a series of six single channel video works that integrate music and film in diverse ways. The public opening of this series will take place on Friday, January 30, 6-8 p.m. in the Morris Gallery (118 N. Broad St.).

The videos shown in the Gallery will further develop its role and reputation as an important venue for supporting the best contemporary art. Ranging from seamless short loops to long closed narratives the works in this series vary in length from a few minutes to over an hour. A sampler of contemporary video art, three of these works use already existent music as a means to give a psychological or emotional charge to imagery that is staged or found, while three use soundtracks or scores that have been composed by the artist.

The schedule for this exciting new series is as follows:

February 3 - February 22, 2009 - Roz (2004) by New York artist Burt Barr (running time 5 min. 40 sec.). Roz stands in the shower and begins to lip Sync to a recording of Otis Clay singing a soulful version of The Banks of the Ohio. Roz's lip-synching looks as if she is following the instructions of someone out of camera view, while the fact that she's singing a song about the murder of an unwilling lover is disquieting. Barr's straightforward approach creates complex references to Hitchcock and Warhol.

February 24 - March 29, 2009 - Muxima (2005) by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar (running time 36 min.). Muxima is a cinematic elegy. Using five different recordings of an Angolan folksong of the same name it is a poetic portrait of a complex and changing society in a land of great wealth and poverty. Interested in the inability of images to fully convey what they depict, Jaar uses the music's resonance to express the experiences of Angola's people.

March 31 - May 12, 2009 - The Jackleg Testament - Part I: Jack and Eve (2004-2005) by Kentucky artist Jay Bolotin (running time 65 min.-timed showings). A one-of-a-kind "wood cut motion picture" opera, The Jackleg Testament reinterprets the story of Adam and Eve as a dark provocative tale in which Eve is lured from the Garden of Eden by a Jack-in-the-Box. The presentation of The Jackleg Testament will be accompanied by an exhibition of Bolotin's woodcuts.

May 14 - June 9, 2009 - Jason's Dream (1997) by Serbian artist Breda Beban (running time 10 min.) Featuring real life characters and locations, Jason's Dream is a musical about a hesitant relationship between two young city dwellers. The events are narrated from the point of view of a song-speech gifted waitress. Scripted and directed by Breda Beban, the music for the film was written by Beban in collaboration with Hrvoje Horvatic and Bell Helicopter.

June 11 - June 28, 2009 - SCAPE (2007) by Chicago artist Kurt Hentschläger (running time 23 min.) SCAPE is a contemplative video-landscape with surround sound in which time is the subject. A bare-bones minimalist tree in black and white moves in and out of focus in a slow pan evoking the scrolling of a Zen ink drawing of bamboo. Complementing the image with a composed abstract soundtrack, Hentschläger has created a phenomenological work that explores the process of perception itself.

30 June - 28 July, 2009 - Threshold to the Kingdom (2000) by British artist Mark Wallinger (running time 11 min. 10 sec.) Filmed surreptitiously and replayed in slow motion, the video shows people entering the arrivals lounge of London City Airport. To this moving image Wallinger has attached a recording of Miserere Mei Deus, a setting of Psalm 51 by Renaissance composer Gregorio Allegri. The result is a ponderous work whose poignancy is tinged with humor and ambiguity.

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