In this sixth iteration of Performance Tapes, art and film historian Jennifer Stob presents two mid-1970s videos from the artists Ant Farm and Ulay. Paired together, the works challenge the distinction between aesthetic and embodied acts of subversive appropriation, or détournement.
In “The Eternal Frame,” Ant Farm and T.R. Uthco reenact the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as it was accidentally captured in the Super-8 film footage of Abraham Zapruder. Together, the performance and its documentation satirize the dubious relationship between American media spectacle and collective memory.
Ulay’s “Da ist eine kriminelle Berührung in der Kunst (There is a Criminal Touch to Art)” records an “action in fourteen predetermined sequences” in which the artist removed a famed painting from Berlin’s New National Gallery and hung it in the apartment of a Turkish immigrant family. The German press interpreted this thievery as the “acting out” of a mentally disturbed person. However, the issues of cultural capital, nationalism and the reproduction of images raised by Ulay’s détournement point instead to a condemnation of societal psychology.
Jennifer Stob is a scholar of experimental film and video. Her work focuses on the intersection of contemporary art and moving images, particularly the place of film in the Situationist International and the Austria Filmmakers Cooperative. Her articles have appeared in Evental Aesthetics, Moving Image Review and Art Journal (MIRAJ), Philosophy of Photography, and Studies in French Cinema. She is an assistant professor of art history in the School of Art and Design at Texas State University and a co-programmer for Experimental Response Cinema in Austin, Texas.
This event is generously funded by the City of Austin