Neil Goldberg, Room Tone
Sara Meltzer Gallery is pleased to announce Neil Goldberg: Room Tone, an exhibition of new videos, video stills and photographs. This is Goldberg's first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Neil Goldberg's work alerts us to the perplexity of being alive in a body in a particular place and time. The world is stunningly specific; our vehicle for moving through it is corporeal. Why are we here in this form? We will never be able to answer that, but the artist can catch us enacting the question. Goldberg's videos make us see how strange it is that we do what we do: eat, breathe, move, wait, feel pleasure, experience surprise, endure disappointment. In each piece, the artist concentrates his attention -- and ours -- on the act of attention itself. In the process, the unnoticed surges into focus, registering like the sounds always present in even the most apparently silent spaces -- what audio technicians call "room tone." Charmed into noticing the distinctiveness of the most mundane details, we become aware of what Pier Paolo Pasolini called "the stupendous monotony of the mystery."
The main gallery presents three single-channel video projections. Salad Bar enlarges and slows down footage of people deciding what to eat for lunch. Ten Minutes with X02180-A maintains a steady focus on a lilac bush in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, noting the actions of passersby. My Father Breathing into a Mirror is a roughly life-sized one-minute video whose title defines its content. Each of a different duration, the videos loop unsynchronized so that we never see exactly the same thing twice. That combination of repetitiveness and uniqueness echoes the videos themselves, in which people perform banal actions in idiosyncratic ways. Attention is the subject of all three videos, but it flows differently in each. In Salad Bar, subjects unaware of being observed direct their rapt attention at food items that remain out of the frame, giving us the opportunity to watch people think. My Father shows us an elderly man whose execution of the artist's instructions allows us to attend to what is usually the least visible and least observed of life-sustaining acts. Ten Minutes foregrounds flowers as they grab the fleeting, slightly abashed attention of passersby. The emotional palette of the room -- poignant, abject, festive, ridiculous, sad -- is as complex as getting through the day.
Also on view is Truck Drivers' Elbows, the only conventional photographs in the exhibition, taken by the artist on his bicycle while stopped at red lights. Isolating what normally exists under the radar, these photographs transform a body part into a self-sufficient whole, available for the viewer's projections.
The sounds of a flamenco ensemble pull visitors up the stairs to the landing where Pilar Rioja Dancing in My Studio plays on a monitor divided into quadrants. One is empty; each of the other three presents unedited footage shot simultaneously by Goldberg and filmmakers Eva Vives and Peter Sollett. Where Goldberg's other works magnify the unremarkable, this work takes the opposite approach. The larger-than-life performance, ironically offered as the show's smallest piece, transports the renowned flamenco artist to a 300-square foot room on the Lower East Side. Rioja's extraordinary presence there mirrors Goldberg's ongoing use of that ordinary space to create his work, much of it visible on the walls as she performs.
In the penthouse gallery, five video stills comprise part of a series entitled Missing the Train. These lush, monumental prints, evocative in expression and style of Old Master depictions of anguish and religious ecstasy, return us to the exhibition's overarching theme of exalting the mundane. A person races for the train; it pulls away without her: we've all experienced this moment. Culling frames from video footage, Goldberg has found these instants and transformed them into searing, incandescent portraits.
The works in Room Tone create a formally pleasurable interplay between sound and silence, motion and stillness, reduction and magnification. An overarching aesthetic of restraint and plenitude, directed at acts that typically go unnoticed, charges us to concentrate on what usually we experience only fleetingly: life's richness, complexity, and persistent underlying strangeness.
Neil Goldberg lives and works in New York. He has exhibited and screened his work at venues internationally, including The Museum of Modern Art (where it was recently acquired for the permanent collection); The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum; The Berkeley Art Museum; The New Museum of Contemporary Art; The Kitchen; Artist's Space; Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt; Neue Gesellschaft fuer bildende Kunst Berlin; Centro de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona and El Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo Mexico City. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts and the Experimental Television Center, among others. Goldberg will be included in the traveling exhibition 50,000 Beds, organized by a The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Goldberg has organized a series of events at Sara Meltzer Gallery bringing together innovative artists in a variety of disciplines including dance, music and video. In wildly different ways each participant explores themes related to those presented in Room Tone.
Oliver Herring and Chris Doyle are visual artists whose work in video and other media involves focused play and collaboration, often with groups of non-performers. Thursday, October 19 at 7:30pm, Herring and Doyle will take turns presenting their projects, call-and-response style, exploring connections and disjunctions between the works.
Nathan Michel is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer making quirky, adventurous music that is as comfortingly familiar as it is disarmingly strange. Thursday, October 26 at 7:30pm, Michel will present a site-specific composition, which will play off the visual rhythms in Goldberg's video installation.
In their dance work, Yvonne Rainer, Trajal Harrel and DD Dorvillier have each been engaged in long-term investigations of notions of non-spectacular movement, among many other issues. Friday, November 3 at 8pm, Harrell and Dorvillier will present pieces in different areas of the gallery while a video of Yvonne Rainer's groundbreaking Trio A(1978) is screened.
Further details and updates about these events will be available on the gallery's website at www.sarameltzergallery.com