“The circling camera of The Drawing Lesson was a device Pearlstein also used for her 2008 show at the Kitchen. Having created the four-channel video After the Fall in the venue’s black box theater downstairs, she then showed the piece in the white box gallery upstairs, alluding to the differing modes of performance in theater and art. Filmed using a set of four cameras, the video first shows a couple on the verge of having sex, and then the interplay between two groupings of actors, one in pink-and-red costumes and the other in gold-and-black. A couple of the actors feign injury from altercations. The way the actors are divided by costume and actions harkens back to Pearlstein’s earlier, more allegorical work. But the constant observation of the actors by the camera, as well as the greater immediacy of their connection with the viewer, makes the work feel more elemental. Building on such effects, Pearlstein went on to adapt the premise of the musical A Chorus Line (the 1975 play and 1985 film) for her video Talent (2009). A Chorus Line, which ran for over 6,000 performances, setting a Broadway record, is about actors auditioning for parts in a new musical. They laugh, cry, sing, dance and tell heartbreaking stories about themselves and their careers. Pearlstein stripped the musical of its songs and dialogue, leaving only the wondrous, spontaneous ephemera of actors at an audition: waiting, hopeful, bored or yearning for attention. At one point they share a loaf of bread. They turn their acting personas on and off and mingle occasionally, though they mostly stay in line as the camera moves in a parallel track back and forth across them.”
Alix Pearlstein is the featured artist in this year’s Artists’ Films International, a program organized by Ballroom in conjunction with London’s Whitechapel Gallery, opening 19 July 2013 in Marfa. Read more here.