Simon Preston Gallery is delighted to present The Spear in the Stone, the gallery’s second solo exhibition by artist Amie Siegel, comprised of two new works, the single-channel video Fetish (2016), and the multi-part film and video installation Double Negative (2015). Siegel, whose work moves between film, video, photography, performance and installation, continues her project of revealing and performing the mechanisms through which objects take on value, examining issues of cultural ownership and image-making bound up within these processes.
Fetish unfolds at London’s Freud Museum, depicting the yearly nighttime cleaning of the psychoanalyst’s personal collection of archeological statues and artifacts. Exposing the unseen procedural activities of the museum, the material and exquisitely mundane qualities of these objects are disclosed. The leading protagonists–analyst, patient (and tourist visitor)—are present only in the objects’ endless accumulation of dust and its painstaking, methodical removal. The artist’s rendering of the ritual cleaning allows for a reverse gaze at Freud’s personal collection and furniture—alternately tender, projective and voyeuristic, as the conservator’s brush sweeps the delicate surfaces of each object, or pulls back fabric upon fabric to reveal a couch’s hidden structure. Through subtle parallels, these objects, processes, and the intimate empathy their simultaneous systems each suggest, are both mirrored and revealed.
Double Negative is composed of two silent, black & white 16mm films and a color HD video, which together propose ruptures between notions of original and remake, artifact and copy, collection and preservation. The two reverse-facing 16mm films simultaneously project images of Le Corbusier’s iconic white Villa Savoye outside Paris, and its doppelgänger, a black copy located in Canberra, Australia. Each film has been printed on 16mm stock as a negative image, or polarity print, further inverting the white original, and thus reversing light and dark.
As Siegel reveals in the high definition color video, the Antipodean black Villa Savoye is, in fact, the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies—dedicated now to the digital duplication of its extensive collections of ethnographic films, photographs, slides, sound recordings and artifacts of anthropologists and indigenous cultures. Moving through the building’s interior spaces, the video, itself adopting an almost ethnographic mode, observes the archival efforts within this high-end technological environment. The work enacts the infinite loop of recorded artifacts—the once urgent compulsion to document and record ‘vanishing’ rituals and cultural practices becomes instead the contemporary archival impulse to copy vanishing media formats to digital. Ultimately, the video folds back in on the entire Double Negative project, bringing into focus practices of observation, image-making, transfer, collection and renderings of ‘otherness.’ These concatenated elements extend the artist’s engagement with architecture as a foil, enacting and revealing across constellation-like works, layered sociological and aesthetic concerns.
Through an exploration of ethnographic artifacts and museological processes, both Fetish and Double Negative examine latent and often contradictory forces at work—the animism that migrates through the notion of preservation is further underscored by the cinematic apparatus itself.
Double Negative was commissioned by Museum Villa Stuck, Munich. An exhibition catalogue published by Mousse features essays by Manuel Cirauqui and Yara Sonseca Mas, and a conversation between Michael Taussig and the artist. Amie Siegel: Ricochet, will be published this spring by Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, featuring essays by Sven Beckstette and Helmut Draxler.
Amie Siegel is an artist based in New York. Current solo exhibitions include Double Negative, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich; Imitation of Life, Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin and Part 2. Ricochet, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart. This spring her work was featured on Vdrome and is currently included in the 2016 Glasgow International, Scotland; Fade in: INT. Art Gallery- Day, Swiss Institute, New York; Beyond 2 Degrees, Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, California and The Future is a Do-Over, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand. Recent solo exhibitions include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the MAK, Vienna. She has participated in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; MAXXI Museum, Rome; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Walker Art Center, MN; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; MoMA/PS1, Queens and the Hayward Gallery, London. Her films have been shown widely including at the Cannes, Berlin, Toronto and New York Film Festivals, MoMA, New York and The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Siegel has been a fellow of the DAAD Berliner-Künstlerprogramm, the Guggenheim Foundation, a recipient of the 2010 ICA Boston’s Foster Prize, a 2012 Sundance Institute award and 2014 Berlin Film Festival award as well as a 2015 Creative Capital Grantee.