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The Whitney presents United States premiere of a new work by David Hockney
David Hockney (b. 1937), still from The Jugglers, June 24th 2012, 2012. Eighteen-screen video installation, color, sound; 9 min.
© David Hockney. Image courtesy Hockney Pictures and Pace Gallery

NEW YORK, NY.- This spring, the Whitney presents the U.S. premiere of The Jugglers, June 24th 2012, David Hockney’s first video installation. Organized by Chrissie Iles, the Whitney’s Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, the work is being shown in the Museum’s second-floor Kaufman Astoria Studios Film & Video Gallery, from May 23 through September 1, 2013.

A group of twelve figures, clad in black, juggle brightly colored objects in an equally bright room, creating a vibrant composition, the energy of which is echoed by the soundtrack of “Stars & Stripes Forever.” Filmed with eighteen fixed cameras, this lively tableau captures the performers as they move in a procession through the room. Throughout the nine-minute performance, each juggler is fully visible making his or her way across eighteen individual screens.

The Jugglers, June 24th 2012 examines how we look at works of art, as well as how we process our day-to-day visual environment. Hockney filmed the performers in his Yorkshire studio on a bright sunny day, creating a production that is nearly free of shadow, evoking the flat composition of ancient Chinese scrolls. The absence of a single perspective in such scrolls has long influenced Hockney’s thinking regarding composition. Echoing the artist’s earlier Polaroid photo-collages, as well as his extensive stage design for opera and ballet, in particular the L.A. Music Center Opera production of Tristan and Isolde (1987), movement and perspective are made dynamic framed against a flat, painterly layout. Hockney’s creation of a composite image from multiple perspectives places the choice of where to look with the viewer, demonstrating the artist’s ongoing interest in the influence of technology as it pertains to both looking at, and creating images.

Curator Iles comments, “In this new video installation David Hockney surprises us once again, exploring how multiple perspectives can transform our experience of the moving image. The vivid tones of ‘The Jugglers’ evoke the intense color of Technicolor Hollywood film, while the jugglers’ playful movements echo the simple actions of early silent movies. Hockney mines the histories of cinema and painting through the lens of technology, to create a new way of seeing.”

Dissatisfied by the single point of view provided by modern photography and cinema, Hockney works against what the artist refers to as the “tyranny of the lens,” releasing the viewer from a restricting, narrow perspective. By producing a work that mimics more closely the view from the human eye rather than the single lens of a camera, Hockney explores the boundary between projection and what we would consider “real life.”

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