In each iteration of the fair, Moving Image partners with New York-based nonprofit Creative Capital to feature an artist working outside the traditional gallery representation system. This March, that artist is Patty Chang: the brilliant, ever-challenging video, performance, and new media artist who emerged in the mid-1990s with some extreme, often difficult-to-watch performance work. We were fortunate to catch up with Patty in the run-up to her feature presentation in Manhattan.
By way of introducing us to her practice, Chang shared a few early highlights, including Melons (At A Loss), which she described matter-of-factly: “I talk about receiving a commemorative plate when my aunt dies, while simultaneously scooping cantaloupe from my breast and eating it.” Melons set the tone for Chang’s career, which has always centered on meditative, visceral performances that deal with cycles of life and, in particular, the female body, usually her own. For another early work, In Love, Chang ate an onion with her parents before sharing a moment of crying and kissing—then played the action backwards in a video. (See the works at right.) “Both in the early performances and in my current work, I am interested in identity and cultural geography,” Chang told us. “I still perform, but much less frequently.”
At Moving Image, she’ll premiere a brand new video piece called Invocation for a Wandering Lake, the first part in a trilogy. “In it, I wash a sperm whale corpse on the coast of Newfoundland,” she described. “It is a meditative act of ablution and mourning, bringing to mind Moby Dick and the melancholy of the end of empire.” Looking beyond Moving Image, Chang is also set to debut a new video piece called Flotsam Jetsam, made in collaboration with David Kelley, at MoMA’s film gallery. She’s also wrapping up a project on the Athabasca Oil Sands, partially shot on location in Uzbekistan—a country that’s held a recent fascination for the artist, judging by her January performance, Flash Burn in Uzbekistan,at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
Want to discover more great video artists? Chang shared several of her “ones to watch,” which include Alix Pearlstein, Laura Parnes, Fiona Tam, Charles Lim, and The Propellor Group, as well as upcoming Whitney Biennial artist Jacolby Satterwhite and the established and ever-influential Stan Douglas. Given her stellar taste and wide range of inspirations, we can’t wait to see what Chang comes up with next.