Curators: Jaap Guldemond and Maxa Zoller
From 28 September to 30 November EYE Amsterdam presents the first solo exhibition in the Netherlands by British artist Anthony McCall. Since the 1970s McCall has produced a remarkable body of work that includes drawings, performances and—most importantly for this exhibition—his large-scale light-projection installations, so-called “solid light films.”
McCall’s sculptural light projections are at once minimalist in form and magical in effect, theoretical in essence and visceral when experienced. His moving light sculptures are in a permanent state of flux, consistently refusing to be classified by the confined categories of art history such as “sculpture” and “film.” The exhibition not only presents some of the most important solid light films but also tracks their development back to McCall’s early work.
EYE’s exhibition program seeks out areas of overlap between film and other art forms. EYE takes a special interest in the medium of film as an art form that is not necessarily confined to screenings in cinema auditoriums, but that also explores uncharted territories, pushing the envelope and setting out to exploit the scope afforded by the three-dimensional exhibition space. McCall’s multi-layered and interdisciplinary work challenges, exceeds and re-defines traditional divisions between “art” and “cinema”; an achievement that resonates with EYE’s curatorial vision.
Solid light films
McCall’s first solid light film, Line Describing a Cone (1973), consists of a 16mm projector and a role of film. McCall treated the role of film with a simple animation technique in such a way that a single white dot on the screen gradually grows into a full circle. When projected in an open gallery space filled with a thin mist in the air the light beam of the projector becomes sculptural. With his solid light films McCall set out to examine the foundations of film offering a critique of the commercial cinema industry, its manipulation of time and space, its use of narrative, montage and suture and its problematic relationship to the viewer.
McCall turns cinema’s raison d’être on its head and draws the viewer’s attention away from the projected image towards the projection beam itself. By presenting his work in a museum setting, McCall also challenges the visitor to relate physically to the moving light sculptures. The artistic context of the 1960s and early 1970s—the blossoming film co-op culture, expanded cinema, performance art, minimal art, structural film and conceptual art—provides the rich, multidisciplinary background against which to read McCall’s projections.
In the late 1970s McCall moved away from art. After a 20-year break, he resumed his career with a renewed sense of urgency and presented Line Describing a Cone at the landmark exhibition Into the Light at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2001. New digital design software, high-quality video projectors and improved technical conditions offered McCall new possibilities to revisit and expand on his works from the 1970s.
In the first part Anthony McCall: Solid Light Films and Other Works (1971–2014) shows a selection of McCall’s drawings, photographs, documentation of his early performances, maquettes and pages from his notebooks offer an introduction to the “roots” of the solid light films.
The second part traces the gradual development from his solid light films from Line Describing a Cone (1973) and Four Projected Movements (1975) to the more recent digital installations Doubling Back (2003) and Face to Face II (2013), McCall’s first large scale installation using floating, double-sided screens. Finally, the exhibition also presents Traveling Wave (1972/2013). This work holds a unique position in McCall’s œuvre as it is purely sound-based.