Apr 6, 2015

The Archive Effect of Igor Grubic's "East Side Story"

Igor Grubic’s two-channel video installation East Side Story is on view through April 12th at MoMa PS1 as part of Zero Tolerance, an exhibition that brings together works from artists around the world who “address the tensions between freedom and control.”  East Side Story juxtaposes Croatian archival footage from violence at two gay pride events in Belgrade (2001) and Zagreb (2002) with footage created by the artist of a choreographic re-enactment of the actions in the archival footage. The vimeo link above arranges the images side-by-side, the MoMa PS1 exhibition projects the archival footage near the leftmost corner of one wall and the dance footage at the rightmost corner of the adjacent wall so that the edges of the two meet in the corner. This project separates out the three temporalities Jaimie Baron argues are present in all appropriation films.  “The ‘then’ of the archival footage, the ‘now’ of the production of the appropriation film, and the ‘now’ of watching the appropriation film” (Baron 109) are pieced apart by the literal crack between the projections on the wall and other museum attendees walking in front of the installation during the viewing. This temporal split makes evident the “archive affect” that Baron sites as part of the viewing experience of the “archive effect.” These terms give structure to the complicated and messy feelings wrought by the violent images in the archival portion of East Side Story as they are juxtaposed up against footage of dancers appropriating the movements of those in the archival footage. The investment of authenticity that is given to the archival footage doubles the loss felt by not only the presence of violent “true” historical images but also by the movements of the dancers in the appropriation playing alongside them.

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