Notes on Art and Culture #3

by Darby Bannard

In 1963 Andy Warhol made SLEEP, a continuous, unbroken 5 hour film of a friend sleeping.

The following year he made one called EMPIRE, which was 8 straight hours of the Empire State Building, straight up.

These movies were much talked about but hardly ever watched, as you can imagine.

In the mid-seventies I was on a National Endowment panel which, among other things, juried submissions for Endowment awards. One year we got not one, but three, videos, each titled SMILE, each from a different state, each consisting of a different young man smiling steadily at the camera for an hour.

I am pleased to see that this glorious tradition is being continued by our young artists, as exemplified by this untitled video by a senior at the Yale Art School. She is clearly enriching the genre by adding grimaces and facial tics. Who knows where it may go from here, what heights it may reach?

I am sure that we will see her in a Whitney Biennial soon after graduation.

People seem to think that the art world is a whirlwind of change, so charged with innovation that it is a full time job to even keep up with it. But think about it: 1963 was almost 50 years ago, and 50 years before 1963 was 1903.

I'm not sure what that says about rates of change in new art, but there it is.

August 31, 2012

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