Monday, August 29, 2005

Artist of the Week 08/29/05

Eve Sussman made a huge splash with her video 89 Seconds at Alcazar. The piece was included in the last Whitney Biennial and was described in New York Magazine this way:

In 89 Seconds at Alcazar, [Sussman] presents a ten-minute loop based on Velázquez’s Las Meninas, with actors playing members of the Hapsburg family. “That painting has the cinéma-vérité quality that only a snapshot has,” says Sussman, “and it predates photography by centuries.” At 42, Sussman is one of the Biennial’s older “emerging” artists, but if her breakout moment has been a long time coming, it seems to have definitely arrived. To make Alcazar, Sussman met with one of the world’s foremost Velázquez scholars and teamed up with Jonathan Bepler, who composed the score for Matthew Barney’s Cremaster series. But any similarities between her and Barney end there. “Where theatricality and real life mix—that, to me, is more interesting than the lavish theatricality that Barney does,” she says. 89 Seconds at Alcazar nevertheless promises to be one of this Biennial’s epic experiences.
Was it ever!

Eve is a very good example of how the pay-off we've been discussing can come for artists who don't compromise their work. In her early forties, she took a chance with a major investment, stayed true to her vision, and saw her career skyrocket. A beloved part of the Williamsburg scene whom everyone is very happy to see make it big, Eve is represented by Roebling Hall Gallery. Here's another still from 89 Seconds...

It is a gorgeous, mature piece that I quite frankly would be shocked to see a younger artist have the insight to make. MoMA owns a copy, and because the others in the edition are long sold out, I suspect that's your best chance of seeing the piece now (anyone know of any upcoming museum showings?). The obvious comparison with Bill Viola has been made, but as one critic noted:

Eve Sussman slows things down, too, with her own slow-motion version of Las Meninas. Whereas Viola aims at the stability of painting, however, Sussman perceives the instability of its making. Where he hopes to make human tears stand still, she makes one wonder what that still moment can ever capture.

Like many video artists, Eve exhibits stills (photographs) from her productions (and sells them too). The stills from 89 Seconds at Alcazar are breathtaking: Here's another:

Eve was in Greece this past spring (actually I'm not sure she's back yet), shooting her next piece, The Rape of the Sabine Women (or possibly titled Raptus...there's a bit of confusion it seems), inspired by Jacques-Louis David’s painting The Intervention of the Sabine Women (1794–99). Here's a production still of that upcoming piece (if you look closely you'll see one of her dealers in this still):

I, for one, can't wait to see this when it's complete.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


[1] Jeff Wall

[2] The very well know west coast Pageant of the Masters at

8/29/2005 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous james leonard said...

Nice highlight. I was unaware of this new piece in production. Sign me up as well on that fan list anticipating its release.

By the way, did anyone else happen to see the two works by Fabien Rigobert in the "Fresh Paint" show at Lehmann Maupin? In particular, I'm thinking of Topanga Ground.

His work is not the same as Sussman's (thank goodness for both of them). It definitely falls into this category of painterly video art, but it leans more allegorical than critical.

I really appreciate Sussman's assertion in the citation: “Where theatricality and real life mix—that, to me, is more interesting than the lavish theatricality that Barney does.”

Her work, instincts, and craft all seem so thorough, so mature--something I've found lacking in many emerging artists as of late. I know Edward posted this in reference to some of the discussions taking place here about the how and when one emerges, but I think it's not just about sticking to your guns. That extra decade in the shadows and the trials, tribulations, and inevitable pruning will transform anyone's work.

I don't wish hardship on any artist out there. Romanticisation of it is stupid. But at the same time that struggle can drive your development. And you can come out the other end the better for it.

Or so I keep reminding myself every other week! ;P

8/29/2005 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

Hey y'all give it up for us older artists!!! WOOT WOOT WOOT!

8/29/2005 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Maybe now that she is a mature artist she can stop dissing other artist's work. Art is not a zero sum game.

8/29/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

What do you mean, Tim? How has she dissed other artists?

8/29/2005 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

That sounds like a story, Tim

care to share?

Or are you suggesting she dissed Barney?

If so, I can see where one might take it that way, but I took it to suggest merely that her interests were different, not superior.

8/29/2005 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

What do you mean, Tim? How has she dissed other artists?

8/29/2005 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Yeah, I meant the comment about Barney. He is everyone's favorite target and it just sounded like the same old snarky junk we hear all the time about him.

It could be read as neutral, I would have to hear her delivery. Since you know her, I will accede.

8/29/2005 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I have alot of trouble with this work. It is undeniably beautiful (from the stills anyway) but she is borrowing credibility from art history. It is a strategy we are all taught these days but it seems small minded and fearful at its base, Some sort of abdication of artistic responsibility to be self determined and fearless. The artist's responsibility is to put him or herself at risk. To seek a bullet proof path is to fail to grapple with this basic thing and leaves the viewer (this viewer, I should say) feeling cheated.

She is, obviously, a talented and committed artist. I just think she has given up too much for the little hit of validation she gets from using an image that is so familiar and authorized.

8/29/2005 05:18:00 PM  

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