Thursday, July 8, 2021, 5 pm
Artist Talk

With Dara Birnbaum (artist, New York) und Stuart Comer (The Lonti Ebers Chief Curator of Media and Performance, The Museum of Modern Art, New York), moderated by Arkadij Koscheew (curator, Berlin)
In English

On the occasion of the exhibition Dara Birnbaum: Talking Back to the Media and based on the works it presents, Dara Birnbaum will speak with Stuart Comer about her artistic practice, the background of canonical works such as Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (1978–1979) and Kiss the Girls: Make Them Cry (1979), and the contexts in which the works have been presented. A particular focus will be on how Birnbaum, who trained as an architect, works with the space in which she presents her works, providing insight into her understanding of space as both a built structure and a social structure. Birnbaum exhibited her works in art spaces, but also in the windows of hair salons and in nightclubs, marking the starting point for the artist’s reflections on the different modes of distribution for video art in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At that time, video became more established as an artistic medium – a development to which Birnbaum’s work contributed significantly.

In the late 1970s, the catalysts for the presentation and distribution of video art in New York were mainly distributors such as Electronic Arts Intermix and independent art spaces such as Artists Space, where Birnbaum had her first solo exhibition in 1977. This is also where she showed
Lesson Plans (To Keep the Revolution Alive) (1977), which marked Birnbaum’s turn to television as a subject matter; this work is now being shown at n.b.k. for the first time in Germany. The distribution of individual video tapes, the artist’s book Note(s): Work(ing) Process(es) Re: Concerns (That Take On / Deal With) (1977), which will be published by Primary Information in New York in 2021; and installations such as Rio Videowall (1989) and Tiananmen Square: Break-In Transmission (1990), are further examples of the successful dissemination of video art that will be discussed during this artist talk.

Dara Birnbaum (*1946 in New York, lives and works there) is a professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York and has held teaching positions at numerous universities, such as the Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main, Princeton University, and the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia/California. Birnbaum participated several times at Documenta in Kassel (1992, 1987, 1982) and at the Venice Biennale (2015, 2003, 2001, 1995, 1984). Extensive solo exhibitions include at: Cleveland Museum of Art (2018); Serralves Foundation, Porto (2010); S.M.A.K. Ghent (2009); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008); The Jewish Museum, New York (2003).

Stuart Comer (*1969, lives and works in New York) has been Chief Curator of Media and Performance at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York since 2013. In 2014 he was co-curator of the Whitney Biennial in New York and in London served as the Tate Modern’s first curator for film from 2004 to 2013. He is editor of the anthology Film and Video Art (London: Tate Publishing, 2009). Comer’s written work has appeared in Artforum, Frieze, Afterall, Mousse, Parkett, and Art Review. The exhibitions he curated at MoMA have included the work of Pope.L, Haegue Yang, Tania Bruguera, and Alexandra Bachzetsis, among others.