But is it Photography? Or Video?

From the controversial artist Robert Wilson,is his latest show “VOOM PORTRAITS” at the ACE Gallery in Los Angeles.

Johnny Depp, 2006
65″ Plasma Screen, Custom Speakers, HD Media Player
5’ 5” (H) x 3’ (W) x 4” (D)
© Robert Wilson: VOOM Portraits,

Brad Pitt, 2004
65″ Plasma Screen, Custom Speakers, HD Media Player
5’ 5” (H) x 3’ (W) x 4” (D)
© Robert Wilson: VOOM Portraits

I went to this show tonight not knowing what to expect. It was a star studded event due to some of the subject matter (see above) but it was also a polarizing show based on what was overheard in the valet area. Love/Hate for sure, but strong reactions. Isn’t that a good thing?

The medium used here is video, but the subjects and scenes are posed and shot as a still image. They hold as steady as possible and sometimes the only movement is their breathing or flutter of feathers on their clothing or background. Or with Brad Pitt the rain falling down around him as he stands as still as a statue. Hence the reason we are talking about the exhibit

Not sure if you are supposed to stand and watch to see if something moves (kind of like Andy Warhol’s “Empire State Building” where you pray for something to happen in 8 hours of locked off camera of the famous NYC structure), or reminiscent of Bill Viola’s extreme slow motion video capture of a scene where something DOES happen or action transpires ) OR embrace it for a moment, catch a living breathing still image and move on.

For me, it was a fascinating concept to behold, but I found it emotionally a slim landscape.
Now every piece of art doesn’t require an emotional connection. This is a technique that is visually satisfying .
And you should see it. Judge for yourself. These still images do not do it justice for the technique standpoint. Plus they are HUGE.

From his website:

“The New York Times has described Robert Wilson as the towering figure of avant-garde theatre. His groundbreaking international theatre works such as “Deafman Glance,” “Einstein on the Beach” and “The CIVIL WarS,” push the limits of time and space, forging images of astonishing beauty, nightmarish psychological complexity, stark wit and haunting emotion. Many have lauded him as a mesmerizing visual genius. Others damn his productions as indulgent and costly. Incendiary, influential, contradictory, puzzling, other-worldly, mischievous, unclassifiable – Wilson is absolutely all of these. For the past four decades the distinguished American director, designer, architect and sculptor has been recognized as one of the most versatile visionary creators of the international stage.

Wilson surprises the spectator with a celebration of the ordinary. His ability to convey complex ideas with the use of simple images and everyday objects is often deeply rooted in his own childhood memories of Waco, Texas. The blue skies, a chair, a glass of milk, a shoe, a tree, will take on a resonant symbolic meaning when filtered through imagination of the artist. His theatre is as mysterious as he is. Throughout his career, he has cultivated and achieved a profound sense of mystery around his persona – part mystic, part showman, at once outrageous and austere — that has made him seem at times to be an impenetrable enigma.”

If you are in LA, check it out.
Robert Wilson “VOOM Portraits”
Ace Gallery Los Angeles
Institute Of Contemporary Art
5514 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
T: 323.935.4411
F: 323.202.1082
Ace Gallery Los Angeles location:


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