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Paul Sietsema: Empire at The Whitney

NEW YORK.- The Whitney Museum of American Art presents “Paul Sietsema: Empire.” Paul Sietsema’s first solo museum show presents his new film Empire, as well as related drawings and two architectural constructions. Inspired in part by a 1964 Vogue photograph of critic Clement Greenberg’s Manhattan living room, the 24-minute film is an exploration of physical, psychological, and cinematic space. Empire will be presented at the Whitney from March 20 through June 8; the film will be shown in the Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Lobby Gallery, while the constructions and drawings will be displayed in the Kaufman Astoria Studios Film & Video Gallery on the second floor.
Presented as part of The Contemporary Series, the exhibition is organized by Debra Singer, associate curator of contemporary art, and accompanied by a special publication with an essay by Chrissie Iles, curator of film and video.
Empire is composed of a series of segments examining varieties of space and the ways we perceive different spaces on the screen. It uses two architectural models constructed by the artist: Greenberg’s chic living room--a quintessential 60s space with paintings by some of the artists Greenberg championed, including Kenneth Noland, Morris Louis and Barnett Newman--and a splendid 18th century-Rococo interior from the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris. In addition, Sietsema explores other forms of space, including the structure of a translucent crystalline form and a cavernous space modeled after a Louise Bourgeois sculpture.
The title, Empire, refers to Andy Warhol’s 1964 film of the same name (an eight-hour static shot of the Empire State Building), and to the Empire Theatre, which in 1896 became the first place in London where one could see “moving pictures.”
As in his earlier work, Sietsema creates by hand all of the scenes and objects depicted. Emphasizing the materiality of film, Sietsema luxuriates in the medium’s sensuous qualities as he plays with exposures, ragged film leader, multiple perspectives, and various film processing methods.
Paul Sietsema (b. 1968) lives and works in Los Angeles. He received an MFA from UCLA in 1999. He had a solo exhibition at Regen Projects in Los Angeles in 2002. Sietsema’s work was included in “The Americans: New Art” (2001) at the Barbican in London, “Sonsbeek 9” (2001) in Arnheim, The Netherlands, “00” (2000) at Barbara Gladstone Gallery in New York, and “L.A.” (2000) at Galerie Monika Spruth & Philomene Magers in Cologne, Germany. An artist’s book, Constructions of Vision, was published last year in conjunction with the “Sonsbeek 9” exhibition.

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