Sturtevant: Leaps, Jumps and Bumps

October 29, 2013

Appropriation and remediation of images, the culture of meme and their intersection with popular culture, advertising, television and cinema, are key issues at the core of Sturtevant’s practice, present in Sturtevant: Leaps, Jumps and Bumps exhibition. Sturtevant is renowned for duplicating works by Warhol and Duchamp amongst others, demonstrating her perception of these recreations as catalysts for thinking about art and its concealed structures. Employing the element of repetition embedded in other artists’ work and in her practice, Sturtevant reflects critically about authorship, authenticity and ownership of artworks, and appropriating versus copying. Furthermore, Sturtevant employs an important learning tool for generations of artists, replicating the work of legendary artists, what she defines as “repetition as difference” (a subversion of artistic practices), as her critical tool to reveal the art world’s hierarchies and power relations. The significance of this tool (and Sturtevant herself) have been canonised by numerous solo exhibitions including the Serpentine’s but perhaps her importance lies more in the way that she brings digital culture to the foreground of artistic debates.

Sturtevant’s recent moving image works position her practice within contemporary life in the digital age reflecting its voyeuristic nature and fast pace of communication, appropriation, and consumption of digital images and the general over-saturation of imagery. These features are encapsulated in Sturtevant’s Elastic Tango (2010) that includes quasi-random fragmental TV and film clips, constantly changing and simultaneously viewed on a nine-monitor pyramid. Here, Sturtevant plays with diverse imagery and speeds, producing a hybrid of television, video and cinematic film in a theatrical format (transforming video clips into a three-act play); a metaphor for the virtual world’s infinite source of imagery and media convergence. Throughout the exhibition Sturtevant employs images and video footage (such as the title Elastic Tango highlightedin a brief video) as promotional-like self-references to her other works.

The video Infinite Finite (2010), presenting a black dog running in a green field, references and to an extent reproduces Muybridge’s work and Warhol’s early films observing mundane activities. This video highlights our contemporary experiences of repetitive, reproduced and incessant imagery on and offline.

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