Eve Sussman: 89 Seconds at Alcázar

  • Jan 15, 2006 – Mar 12, 2006
Eve Sussman, "89 Seconds at Alcázar", 2004, digital video projection, 10
minute loop, sound by Jonathan Bepler, choreography by Claudia de Serpa
Soares, and costumes by Karen Young. Heather and Tony Podesta Collection,
Falls Church, VA.

Film and video artist Eve Sussman brings Diego Velázquez's 1656 painting, Las Meninas, to life in her installation 89 Seconds at Alcázar. The work is a fluidly choreographed 360º Steadicam single-shot take that imagines the moments leading up to the scene in the salon of the Alcázar (the Palace of the Hapsburgs). Each instant in Sussman's work implies as much weight and narrative as the gestures captured by Velázquez in his original painting.

Sussman encountered Las Meninas at the Museo del Prado, Madrid and was inspired by its incorporation of visual devices that appear to allude to film and photography, though the work pre-dates their invention by two centuries. One of the central figures in the image is Velázquez himself working on a painting, an acknowledgement of the viewer that represents a profound break with illusion within the history of art. Sussman succeeds in updating this transition in thought by re-framing the work as a high definition digital video shot in real-time. Sussman hired actors to play the characters in the video, which include King Philip IV and his wife Mariana of Austria, their daughter Princess Margarita, the young prince, a dwarf, a burly dog, and Velázquez himself.

Sussman was born in London in 1961 and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. 89 Seconds at Alcázar premiered at the Whitney Biennial in 2004 and has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Rice University Art Gallery, Houston. Her new work, Raptus, is currently in production by Rufus Corporation and will be shown at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from July 6 - September 25, 2006.

Special thanks to the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection for allowing the Weatherspoon to borrow 89 Seconds at Alcázar.

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