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|Screen Tests, 2009, Installation view|
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Leung Chi Wo
Raul Ortega Ayala
WITH (with you.co.uk)
Using archival footage of cultural icons downloaded primarily from Internet sources such as YouTube, Conrad Ventur creates immersive environments that draw on the power of celebrity, collective memory, and nostalgia. In appropriating these found recordings, Ventur reanimates the great entertainers of past generations, highlighting the desire to recreate and relive significant cultural moments. Moreover, in employing the Internet, a non-hierarchical medium that collapses distinctions and distances in time and space, Ventur points to the merging of past and present in his installations, presenting these notable subjects in a new context. Ventur refracts these videos through objects such as crystal pendants and disco balls, spilling spectral images of stars and starlets, many of them now deceased, throughout the exhibition space, creating what the artist describes as an expanded cinematic narrative.
In a recent ongoing series, Ventur has restaged a number of Andy Warhol's Screen Tests rather than appropriating the existing recordings. Ventur invited living Warhol superstars such as Billy Name and Bibbe Hansen to re-perform their own Screen Tests from decades before, creating new films that serve as quotations of Warhol's original recordings, and each artistís own prior performance. Like Warhol, Ventur is interested in probing the nature of fame and celebrity; though Name and Hansen were active members of Warhol's scene, today they are not necessarily recognizable as the stars that they were in Warhol's time. Like the found musical performances, Ventur's Screen Tests attempt to explore the mythology of the past from the perspective of the present, investigating the possibilities offered by the distribution and rediscovery of archival material in a digital age.
Conrad Ventur (b. 1977, Seattle) currently lives and works in New York. He received his MFA from Goldsmiths College, London in 2008 and has recently had a solo exhibition at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh (2009), among other international solo and group exhibitions. In 2004, Ventur launched the contemporary art magazine USELESS. He has recently been selected to participate in Greater New York, the quintennial exhibition organized by MoMA PS1 and The Museum of Modern Art to document recent trends, processes and media living and working in the New York area.
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