Monroe, NBA Icons Vanish at Krasny Oktyabr
- By Ksenia Galouchko
- Oct. 28 2009 00:00
Andy Warhol’s phrase about everyone having “15 minutes of fame” gets a new take at artist Paul Pfeiffer’s show, “Perspective Machine,” at Fabrika Krasny Oktyabr.
In his video and photographic art, Pfeiffer takes images of celebrities — from Marilyn Monroe to NBA players — and moves them out of the spotlight, thus allowing the spectator to focus on other details of the image.
“With all the reality shows, Warhol’s ‘15 minutes of fame’ is becoming very literal, as everyone today is facing a camera and the definition of fame is quite blurry,” Pfeiffer said in an interview. “Everyone’s existence now is about how you look on camera. It is a paranoia, which is good and bad at the same time, but the whole world is under this condition at the moment.”
The exhibition starts on a different note with “Vertical Corridor,” which visitors see by looking through a hole in the wall of the gallery. Behind it is what looks like an unfeasibly large space, as if to show immediately that not everything seen at the exhibition is to be believed.
Pfeiffer takes one of Bert Stein’s famous photos of Marilyn Monroe from “The Last Sitting” photo shoot. She is in the nude, looking relaxed in the shot, taken just six weeks before her death. Pfeiffer erases the legendary U.S sex symbol from the photo, leaving the only item of clothing — her red scarf — as the sole witness of Marilyn’s god-like presence.
“Perception is something that has always been an interest in my work: making the spectator take a step back, look beyond the image’s immediate objective,” he said. “In my ‘24 Landscapes’ series, I bring together 24 images of Marilyn at the beach done by different photographers and I camouflage the landscape over her, visually removing Marilyn. But there is something so specific about her figure, her image is so famous, that she remains in the picture, even if you physically remove her.”
While for Warhol, models were the superstars of the 1970s, Pfeiffer’s celebrities are basketball players, whom he captures during the ecstasy of athletic action.
In his work “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” the title of which was inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s famous 15th-century series of woodcuts, the artist erases all distractions from NBA game pictures, from the score board to the hoop and all the players but one, so that the image focuses on a single player’s athletic moment.
“The sports industry is becoming something of a universal language in art — my interest is the way it is tapping into mass media, the way NBA players appear as semireligious icons when all the distractions are removed from the picture,” Pfeiffer said.
The “John 3:16” video piece also turns to the NBA, showing the game from the perspective of a basketball, which is fixed at the center of the screen, while athletes’ hands and hoops and flash in the background.
Pfeiffer’s show is one of the Third Biennale of Contemporary Art’s special projects and is installed at the former Red October Chocolate Factory.
“I love this space, it has so much character — you have to fight with it to win it over! Red October is a
perfect counterpart to my ‘The Saints’ show in Berlin, which recently opened at the Hamburger Bahnhof,”
Pfeiffer said. “Its setting was much more conventional.”
“Perspective Machine” runs till Nov. 22 at Fabrika Krasny Oktyabr, 6 Bersenevskaya Naberezhnaya, 3rd Floor. Tel. +7 (499) 230-3930, Baibakovartprojects.com.