Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 6:00am - 7:00am
Recital Hall 12:00 noon March 18, 2009
Adad Hannah’s work parses the divide between photography and video. His most prominent body of work is a growing series of videos called Stills. In them, Hannah strips video of movement and sound, video’s basic elements, to see what survives. Upon first glance they read as photographs, but closer inspection reveals people “frozen” in action. Despite their static composition, the Stills videos mesmerize viewers who notice imperfections such as blinking, breathing, or swaying – the inevitable failure to become statues. Although nothing seems to “happen” in these works, they are charged with action as we watch for tiny movements, as if the subjects are trapped in a picture trying to come to life.
The tension of anticipated movement captivates the viewer as she mirrors the work while watching it. Both viewer and subject stand still, waiting for the other to succumb. As the viewer experiences the crux of spectatorship, she is forced to consider her own performance within the gallery, and thus her relationship to art.
In his photographs and videos, Hannah explores the reception of art by embedding mirrors in museums. In a solipsistic move, he manipulates canonic works that interrogate the viewing process and offer a meditation on duality. In Two Mirrors, shot at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Hannah inserts two men and a mirror into Velázquez’s Las Meninas. Although they share only one mirror, Hannah’s title refers to the painted one above, believed to reflect the king and queen posing for their portrait. Velázquez implicated the viewer to a privileged position, just as Hannah situates the viewer to appear through a mirror at the two men staring back.
For Performance/Audience/Remake, Hannah re-stages Dan Graham’s seminal Performance/Audience/Mirror (1975), in which Graham described his own actions and those of his audience as he stood between the attentive crowd and a mirrored wall. Graham’s performance was documented in a video, which Hannah mimics in his work. Rather than re-enact the entire performance, Hannah staged the scene for the camera, creating a series of “faux photographs,” videos in which surrogates for Graham and the audience stay motionless.
Mirroring is a paramount motif in Hannah’s photographs and videos, developed from an interest in distinguishing image from object, and representation from reality. He conflates the replica with its subject, asking us to consider what the difference holds at stake.
He has exhibited at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (2008), the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (2008), Ke Center for Contemporary Art (Shanghai 2008), the Vancouver Art Gallery (2007), the National Gallery of Canada (2006), Ikon Gallery (Birmingham 2006), the 4th Seoul International Media Art Biennale (2006), Casa Encendida (Madrid 2006) and Viper Basel (2004). In 2004 he won the Toronto Images Festival Installation/New Media Award, and the Bogdanka Poznanovic Award at Videomedeja 8. His work has been funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, the B.C Arts Council, the Vancouver Foundation/Contemporary Art Gallery, the Quebec Delegations and Canadian Embassies in Madrid, Seoul, and New York. He has produced works at museums including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Rodin Gallery (Seoul), and the Prado Museum (Madrid).
Adad Hannah is represented by Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain in Montreal – www.pfoac.com