Bomb magazine interview with Paul Pfeiffer

October 12, 2006 at 6:58 am Leave a comment


Paul Pfeiffer, Study for Morning After the Deluge, 2001, LCD monitor, metal armature, DVD player and digital video loop, 5 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 60″. All images courtesy of the artist and The Project, New York.
Winner of the Whitney Museum’s first Bucksbaum award in 2000, Paul Pfeiffer has received attention over the last few years for his provocative digital video production. I first became interested in Pfeiffer’s work when I saw John 3:16, a mesmerizing image of a basketball floating in the center of the screen while the court, spectators and the hands of the players seem to spin around its fixed center. As an unending loop, the work anchors the title’s biblical connotations of eternal life, while the cropped and spliced NBA footage makes reference to the almost religious spectacle of professional sports. Many of Pfeiffer’s works use found footage and images from popular culture to explore the relations among race, religion, art and human thought. They also link practices of image-making across historical periods, from painting and theater to cinema and television, inviting the audience to reflect on the conditions that delimit or define both spectacle and spectator. One such work, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, consists of four photographs of Marilyn Monroe from which the movie star’s image has been digitally removed, leaving only a monochrome background. A different kind of erasure is at play in The Long Count, in which the original television broadcasts of Muhammad Ali’s major championship fights are digitally edited so that the bodies of both boxers are removed from the ring, leaving only ghostly outlines to dance across the screen. Both works use digital editing to address the question of historical visibility or invisibility, emphasizing the power of image culture to confer the status of the “real” onto the past or onto human bodies in the present. Last fall Paul asked if I would like to have a dialogue with him about our mutual interests in image production, digital media and race politics for Bomb. The resulting transcript is less an interview than a conversation inspired by critical themes in Pfeiffer’s work.

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Entry filed under: artist works.

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