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Signals: The Politics of Video

September 13, 2020 – January 03, 2021

The Museum of Modern Art

Offering a timely examination of art, politics, and the public sphere, The Museum of Modern Art will present Signals: The Politics of Video, a major exhibition that will be on view in the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Center for Special Exhibitions from September 13, 2020, through January 3, 2021. Having become widely accessible as a consumer technology in the 1960s, video is ever-present today—on phones, on computer screens, defining new spaces and experiences, shaping our ideas and politics, and spreading disinformation, documentation, evidence, fervor. Coinciding with the US presidential election in fall 2020, this collection-based exhibition will reveal the ways in which artists have both championed and questioned the promise of video. Signals poses video not as a traditional medium but as a pervasive and fluid media network that is thoroughly global, social, and interactive: a means of politics.

Signals’ focus on investigations into video, art, and politics will reveal a history that has been critical and activist from its very beginnings. It will highlight exemplary works from the collection—many newly acquired and never before seen here, others demonstrating the Museum’s groundbreaking engagement with video from the 1960s on—as well as select loans. This array of approximately 30 works will enable audiences to experience video art’s varied viewing conditions, sites of display, and global reach, from closed-circuit experiments to viral video, from agitation to persuasion, from forensic evidence to alternative facts. It will show how artists use video to probe society, communication, and democracy.

 

Organized by Stuart Comer, The Lonti Ebers Chief Curator of Media and Performance, and Michelle Kuo, The Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture.

Generous funding for the exhibition is provided by The Thomas H. Lee and Ann Tenenbaum Endowed Fund.

Press Kit

Images

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Hito Steyerl. How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File. 2013. Video (color, sound). 14 minutes. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Committee on Media and Performance Art Funds. © 2020 Hito Steyerl.

Alex Bag and Patterson Beckwith. Cash from Chaos/Unicorns and Rainbows. 1994–97. Multi-channel video (color, sound). Duration variable. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Jill and Peter Kraus. © 2020 Alex Bag and Patterson Beckwith.

Mona Hatoum. Measures of a Distance. 1988. Video (color, sound). 15:26 minutes. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase. © 2020 Mona Hatoum. Courtesy Video Data Bank, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Bani Abidi. Reserved. 2005. Two-channel video (color sound) and two projection screens. 9:49 minutes. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Fund for the Twenty-First Century. © 2020 Bani Abidi

Martine Syms. Lessons I–CLXXX. 2014–18. 180 videos (color, sound). 90 minutes (30 seconds each). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Fund for the Twenty-First Century. © 2020 Martine Syms.

Peter Callas. NEO-GEO: An American Purchase. 1989. Video (color, sound). 9:17 minutes. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of The Contemporary Arts Council of the Museum of Modern Art. © 2020 Peter Callas. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.

Dara Birnbaum. Tiananmen Square: Break-In Transmission. 1990. Five-channel color video, four-channels of stereo sound, surveillance switcher, and custom-designed support system. Dimensions variable. Installation view: Dara Birnbaum, Marian Goodman Gallery, London, November 8, 2018–January 12, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery.

Song Dong. Broken Mirror. 1999. Video (color, sound). 3:54 minutes. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Committee on Media and Performance Art Funds. © 2020 Song Dong.